It’s Not Capitalism vs The Climate, it’s Socialism

I see Naomi Klein has a new book coming out, Capitalism vs The Climate. Here’s the synopsis:

Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better. 

In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth.”

This is not a review of her book, but clearly with it she is arguing against capitalism. This is what I shall address. From the arguments in her previous work, ‘Shock Doctrine’, we know that Klein mistakenly believes there is no distinction between capitalism and corporatism/state-controlled capitalism. To her they are one and the same. But in fact they are not. The former is Capitalism proper and involves only voluntary action. It is free exchange between individuals. It is what you and I and billions of others do every day. Corporatism, on the other hand, is corporations exploiting the State’s control over money supply/interest rates, and its powers to subsidise, regulate and license to gain unjust economic advantages. It’s a process that invariably benefits politicians also.

Anyone who argues that capitalism proper is not a force for human good cannot escape the fact that, fundamentally, they are arguing against the virtue of human liberty; which is the same as arguing for at least the diminishing of individual liberty. She could have entitled her book “You Should Have Less Freedom” and not changed the meaning. But that probably wouldn’t sell very well.

Capitalism is merely a system of spontaneous order that emerges out of societies where individuals have some degree of freedom and property rights. Capitalism has a history of being very good for humanity. Through capitalism nearly 1 billion human beings have raised themselves out of poverty in the last 20 years alone. Capitalism is set to eradicate global poverty because it is production by the masses for the masses. We are the masses. Before capitalism there was only production by minorities for minorities (i.e. kings and queens and the like). Everyone else lived short lives on the brink of starvation. If they were lucky.

Whatever Klein’s grand plan is for saving the planet and the future of humanity it undoubtedly requires government action, probably on a global scale. Government action always means less liberty. Less liberty means less wealth creation. Less wealth means more poverty. You certainly can’t benefit or save humanity by plunging much of it back into poverty. You do it no harm at all by not preventing billions of minds from having the freedom to innovate, create, produce and labour to overcome challenges like long-term changes in the global climate.

Climate change has been happening for as long as Man has been walking on two legs. Somehow, even primitive Man found a way to survive an ice age. It is entirely reasonable, then, to expect modern Man with all the resources, advantages and technology that he has to overcome the next challenge of climate (whenever that arrives). We may be confident that humanity will survive, that is, as long as it isn’t prevented from doing so by its own governments whose members are “…absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves”, as T. S. Eliot once put it. The kind of people who force everyone else to live according to the choices required by plans invented by intellectuals like Klein.

It is a pity that Klein is producing works like this because she is a good writer. If she really wants to help humanity, and I’m sure she does, then she should be advocating more freedom for individuals and not less.

If climate socialism in the form of government action on a global scale happens as Klein and others desire, then that will represent the biggest threat to humanity’s survival because the one thing socialism cannot do is use resources efficiently. Logically and empirically this has been proven for some time. The inconvenient truth for Naomi Klein is that it’s not Capitalism vs The Climate. It is Socialism vs The Climate.

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