Which way Western Man?

Do not expect the commercial classes to come up with solutions to the problem of global warming, writes Christopher Goff.

While nationalists tend not identify with capitalism – people with a strong social-ethic were never going to much like an economic system created by the self-interested – it has nevertheless become the dominant economic force of this modern age. And to accompany the global system of capitalism a so-called 'New World Order' has been created where people are governed more and more by the rules of the commercial classes – strong advocates for the freer movement of goods, capital, people and social ideas, like human rights, democracy and liberalism – and less and less by national governments. Nowadays, national governments are mostly concerned with things like law enforcement, the setting of interest rates and the administration of the free market.

Greater economic freedom and the opening-up of world markets has undeniably benefited large numbers of people around the world, and particularly so in those countries which have experienced very rapid economic growth, like Brazil, India and China. It is the case that millions of people have managed to climb out of poverty after migrating from rural areas to new industrial centres, some of which have been almost entirely constructed from scratch.

But the growth of capitalism has had a wider impact than just an improvement in the standard of living of ordinary working people. At the other end of the wealth creation scale some people have not only got rich, but very rich. The freeing-up of markets in many of the intrinsically statist giants of the world, like Brazil and India; the collapse of the Soviet Union and with that the re-unification of Europe; and the adoption of capitalism by the Chinese have all led to the creation of bigger markets and with that the prospect of bigger gains. Capitalism has made the wealthy very wealthy because – and as the saying goes – in a global market you can hit a bigger jackpot than in a local one.

However, and in spite of the apparent successes of capitalism, more and more people are beginning to question just how sustainable an economic model it really is. And I do not mean sustainable in an economic context, but sustainable in an environmental one and in terms of the ability of our planet to carry such a large and greedy system of wealth creation in this age of global warming and climate change. It was over two decades ago now that scientists first started to become aware of the phenomenon of global warming and of how it was thought the activities of man were responsible for very rapid and unprecedented rises in the mean surface temperature of the planet. The evidence is now compelling in as much as the temperature rise during the Industrial Age has been such a large one and within such a short timescale that it cannot easily be explained by anything else other than man's burning of fossil fuels. Clearly, a range of other factors are also implicated in the process of climate change, like deforestation and other land use changes, but by far the most important factor is the one of increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.

The debate about how to best tackle global warming continues, but few it appears are beginning to reach the conclusion that it is the capitalist system of wealth creation which is in significant part responsible for the phenomenon, while even fewer are suggesting that only by addressing those problems inherent with capitalism can we manage to get our planet off its fast-track to climate change.

But there are those who believe that the problem of global warming is one that can be solved by employing market forces within the existing framework of capitalism. Convinced? Well, for every family in the UK that switches to energy saving light bulbs there might be a thousand in China who at that exact same time might be plugging-in their first ever washing machine or fridge. And for every foreign holiday involving a plane journey that we one day might not be able to afford on account of some kind of Carbon Tax a new factory in China might open. And for every new wind turbine we construct a new Indian coal-fired power station might come on-line. So yes, something like a system of carbon taxation or carbon trading is exactly what a capitalist 'man of details', keen as he is on tinkering at the edges, would come up with. Carbon taxation and the introduction of new laws and a myriad of other restrictions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of a process of so-called de-carbonization, like improved fuel efficiency, carbon capture, a shift to public transport, greater uptake of renewables and even the construction of new nuclear power stations, will only get us so far, perhaps only delaying by a generation or two the arrival of the planet at the point of no return.

International Treaties aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including those originating from the Kyoto (1997) and Paris (2015) Climate Summits, will only get us so far such is the lack of comprehension of the scale of the problem we face and the level of response needed to tackle it. At this particular juncture in the history of humankind I think we are discovering that there is in fact a very real and perceptible limit to the type and scale of economic system that our planet has the capacity to carry, and as such we have to understand that the problem of global warming is not one that can be solved solely through efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions within a framework of international treaties. Instead, it is imperative that the world looks to a more environmentally sustainable economic system than the capitalist one in place at the moment.

The nationalist economic model is one of renovation and not revolution, and is firmly based on the common sense acceptance that market-orientated economies do at least work. However, in order to prevent large organisations from dominating the body politic the concept of subsidiarity has always been an important element of nationalist economic thinking, and it is the principle that no larger economic unit should perform a function which can be performed equally as well by a smaller one. With this in mind, nationalists envisage a de-scaling of the world economy, the shrinking of businesses so that they better fit within national boundaries and a decisive shift towards a more equitable system of wealth creation.

Nationalists favour the fairer distribution of property, something not to be confused with the redistribution of capital as advocated by socialists. Nationalists say, that while socialism encourages the state ownership of productive property and capitalism allows only a few to own it, it is better that productive property be owned by a far greater number of people. Current anti-monopoly legislation aimed at preventing companies from gaining too great a share of markets is plainly ineffective, and instead what is needed is a system which favours many participants over a few. Putting strict limits on the overtly profit-making aspects of the banking sector is also an important step towards creating a fairer society, and this move might also encourage the creation of viable saving and lending alternatives, such as credit unions. And in the 'downshifting' of economies envisaged by nationalists, emphasis would be placed on the concept of localism so as to encourage a much needed move away from mass production, the transportation of vast amounts of manufactured goods around the world and the over-exploitation of the world's resources, and instead towards the nationalist ideal of the unification of capital, ownership and production within national boundaries.

Above all, Western Man must abandon his quest for affluence and instead become more concerned with things like the preservation of cultural traditions and Nature, and also spending more time with his family. While people have become fond of thinking in terms of 'environmental problems', these problems most usually have a strong economic dimension to them in so far as lots of environmental problems have arisen as a direct result of man's insatiable desire to acquire money.

Only when we are able to shape new economic futures different from the old can we hope to address the problem of global warming.

Copyright © Christopher Goff
Tag: Climate Change
Uploaded: 14 July, 2016.