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A Path to Democratic Socialism Means a Path To Climate Justice

A Path to Democratic Socialism Means a Path To Climate Justice

Thea N. Riofrancos

This piece is a response to “We Don’t Have Time to End Capitalism—But Growth Can Still Be Green.​

While the question of whether we should address capitalism first or climate change first is often posed in sequential terms, it is a false choice—though a compelling one.

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“The choices are ecosocialism or eco-apartheid.”

Well put!


A panel discussion in 2018 Politicon

Can we be as radical as the future we face?

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A big swing and a miss, buddy. Yes the autocratic governing clique uses socialist policies but its successes and its failures are because they have oriented their economy around oil wealth (which Kerry and the gulf states keenly targeted to destroy their economy, leading neatly to the neoliberal coup we see now.) Obvisouly our future society won’t incentivize the shady centralization of power, the fossil-fuel finance myopia, nor will it be subject to socipathic neoliberal R2P types!

LOL! Hey, capitalism rules the death squad state in Colombia, literally Venezuela’s neighbor. Yes, it is a human rights horror show, deadliest place in the world for union organizers, journalists, social workers, among the deadliest for politicians on the left, dozens of indigenous groups have been eliminated forever thanks to right wing land grabs in recent decades, the CIA data shows mass migration from the country on par with Venezuela (a country under siege thanks to us) and it has among the highest number of internally displaced people of any country in the world, but it isn’t under attack by the US government (for decades now). If you are in favor of capitalism, can I be a silly mindless person too and always scream Colombia! I would give an argument on how capitalism cannot be sustainable, it isn’t possible, but it isn’t as if you are serious when you say this stuff. People use one word arguments (Venezuela! Cuba! Socialism!) when they have nothing of substance to say.

Also, would you care to talk about what preceded Chavez taking over? How was the economy in the years leading into Chavez becoming president? What is the role of the US (through the CIA, the NED, USAID, the International Republican Institute, the Atlas Network, among others) and US affiliated groups in the country’s struggles? What role has the sanctions played, and the economic war against the country? What role has the fascist right (which the media here calls “the opposition”) played in its struggles, especially since it often has monopolistic power in certain markets that produce needed goods and the owners of those companies openly announced that they would cut back supply as a means of trying to cause harm and unrest? What struggles does Venezuela have with other developing countries, and other major oil producers?

Come on, return and discuss this.


It’s time to acknowledge the truth: The consumption habits of our consumerist culture are not sustainable, especially our dietary preferences. We’re way beyond “eating less meat”.

This is not a popular message with the denial crowd, and the pseudo-progressive set who really don’t want to change their lifestyles, but there it is.

And yes, unregulated capitalism in general is a planet-killer:

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And would that be pre or post Thatcher?

Laughable! So when the West was importing opium into China, that was not capitalism? Or, let’s see, the slave trade! Just write it out! The massive profits were not capitalism… until they were reinvested to build the USA! Neat trick! “If it’s bad, cruel, evil, ugly, monstrous, it’s NOT capitalism!” You are my new favorite!

Your little anecdote about the UK in the '70s is such hard core scientific evidence!

You are aware that your beloved utopia USA has the WORST health outcomes of any industrialized country in the world, at by far the HIGHEST cost, with literally TENS OF THOUSANDS of needless deaths every year from inability to pay what the “corporate death panels” demand?

That even Cuba has better health outcomes than the USA? You do know this, right? Jack? Joke?

This is a great article, sorry i didn’t read it earlier. Super happy to read straightforward writing that contemplates what is needed, and how we might try to achieve it.

Of course it’s capitalist, what the hell are you talking about you ignorant troll? Just because it’s a human rights horror show doesn’t mean you can run from the fact that it has been run by the ideological right for decades. And if it is a “shit hole” country, we the US were a huge reason why it has massive problems. We have given Colombia more aid than any country in the world since WWII, outside of Egypt and Israel. We have given billions since 2000 alone. The CIA set up the paramilitary network there, which was aimed at violently beating back the population. Since the 1980’s, over 80 priests have been killed by death squads. Thousands of activists and politicians on the left were killed in recent decades and the country, according to the UN, is in need of land reform more than any in the hemisphere. Dozens of indigenous groups are in danger of extinction according to our own state department, and almost all of it is because of right wing terror groups.

I asked you about Venezuela, asked you to come back, so answer my questions. Show you have something more than nonsense blather.

What in the fuck does this even mean? You seem to think that stringing together a bunch of immature and pathetic put downs constitutes an argument. Most of the technology that goes into cell phones was created in the state/military sector and with state funding. GPS systems, the internet, touch screen technology, nanotechnology, laser technology, came out of the state/military sector. Almost all of the major technology that goes into the iPhone can be traced back to the state, one way or another. Mariana Mazzucato has a book on this if you want to know what you are talking about, called “The Entrepreneurial State”.

The US developed behind the highest average industrial tariffs in the world from about the War of 1812 until WWII. That state led development is the norm, not the exception to the rule. In recent decades, it is China that is responsible for the overwhelming majority of the reduction in worldwide poverty in recent decades directly, about 70%. A good portion of the rest comes from China too, since it imports so much from developing countries. You’d have to be an ignorant know nothing to claim China is a capitalist system.

In fact, the only countries that have developed in recent decades have done so by radically violating anything near what you could call “free market” policies. Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, they all employed a state-led form of economic development. South Korea and Taiwan (and even to a large extent Singapore) developed by copying the Japanese model, which is further away from a free market than what Bernie is proposing. In the Cold War era, did free market capitalism win the day? Of course not, you ignorant troll. It was social democracy that “won”. None of the major economies during that period were free market countries. The modern European welfare state was built in that period, Medicare in Canada, the NHS systems in the UK, Nordic social democracy, even here in the US it was the New Deal and Great Society era. THAT is what “won” the cold war. All the Western countries have gone to hell since they increasingly adopted neoliberalism. In addition to the US and western countries supporting coups and dictatorships in places like Central and South America, they also forced horrific economic policies on those countries (the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, deals like NAFTA), and set them on fire with the drug war. To pretend that their struggles are of their own doing is ignorant, and you are fucking stupid as a troll can be. Smugnerant.

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How fucking ignorant are you? A multi-payer system will always be more inefficient and costly. When you have more companies offering many plans, the healthcare providers have to set aside a lot of money to manage the complexity. About a third of overall expenditures in the US system goes towards managing that complexity. This isn’t just this system. The WHO did a study, which I can link for you (not that you will read it), that showed that administrative overhead in private healthcare systems around the world is three times higher than publicly run systems. The Netherlands is the closest you will get to a US style system in Europe, and the system there has much higher administrative overhead because of the number of payers in the system. Then, at the institutional level, you have lots of waste. Profits, marketing and lobbying costs, high executive pay, high administrative costs, lots of money spent on lawyers and accountants to manage the complexity. There is no possible way a US system will ever be more efficient than a single payer system, it isn’t possible, and your claim above has no factual backing. The overhead in the Medicare system here is about 7%, the more privatized parts of Medicare are more inefficient, while traditional Medicare has about 2% overhead. As much as half of private health insurance before the ACA was gone to waste of various kinds, and even with the ACA it is much higher than Medicare.

I so love your anecdotes and baseless claims. I mean, up to 45,000 Americans die every year because they lack healthcare. If you don’t know anyone that has died because they couldn’t get care, then you are privileged. And you want to talk about your friends, as if you have built up trust that we would trust you any fucking way. There are four NHS systems in the UK, not one. The British NHS has been starved of funds (the Tories there have cut back funding there and have created a multi-billion dollar funding gap). That starving of funds has been used by the right to farm out services. Now, having a system like ours is impossible politically in the UK, or any other country with universal systems. But the right is trying to move it from a totally socialized system to more of a single payer system. Has it made things better? No, the overhead and waste in the system has gotten worse than the other NHS systems that haven’t privatized as much, and the outcomes have no improved. Much more is now spent on administrative overhead than before privatization (i.e., more waste). The way they fund the other NHS systems is based upon funding in the British NHS, so cuts there have required cuts to the other systems. Despite that, a recent Commonwealth study ranked us 11 out of 11 as far as healthcare systems it studied and put the NHS systemS in the UK at the top. Even with the underfunding in the British NHS, the NHS system is still popular with the public and there is NO support as far as moving towards a system like ours.

Just so you know, right now in the VA there are thousands of open positions that the government refuses to fill. The VA has been underfunded overall too, outside of staffing. And yet a recent Rand study found that care in VA facilities outperforms care in private facilities. Here in the US, not only are the public healthcare systems more efficient, Medicare, Medicaid and the VA system are all more popular than private insurance.

You have no argument. You really don’t. You can’t say anything of substance about much of anything, and you certainly can’t explain how capitalism could ever deal with the environmental crisis. My guess is that for you to hold on to your silly beliefs, you probably have to deny the science itself and probably deny that there is an environmental crisis. If you don’t, I would love to hear you blame it on socialism. Please, if that is your argument, flesh it out silly man.

I lived in China for a year and a half, in the mainland near Hong Kong.

All land, rivers and lakes are publicly owned. Over 84 Chinese companies listed in the Fortune 500 in recent years, 78 were state owned enterprises. There are price controls, capital controls, they until recently had an internal passport system, for the first few decades they relied heavily on township village enterprises (which were publicly owned local enterprises), but even now SOEs own as much as half of overall enterprise assets. China has built a massive amount of money on public housing, plans to move half a billion people into cities in the coming decades. The state has dominant control in energy, heavy industry, finance, light industry, among others. The country recently has been trying to create a “socialist countryside”, which includes more state investment in rural areas, a basic public pension system, and basic healthcare. And as you may know, there is massive unrest in China. The government, until a few years ago, admitted that there were well over 100,000 “mass incidents” in the country, and it admitted that most of those mass incidents were related to inequality, environmental degradation, the quasi-privatization of communal lands that were given to developers, and corruption.

A massive amount of money and resources during the Maoist period was spent on public works projects, social services and public housing. China, to this day, still relies heavily on the infrastructure built during the Maoist period. Indian healthcare experts were asked a few years ago why China had taken off so much more than India has, and they themselves aid that it was the investments then in basic healthcare, clean water projects, and the resources devoted to poorer areas. According to the economic historian Angus Maddison, as of the early 19th century, China controlled as much as a third of worldwide GDP. By 1949 (thanks to British imperialism, western imperialism, Japanese imperialism) that had shrunk to about 6-7%. Average life expectancy as of 1949, according to the World Bank, was 37 years. By 1976, when Mao died, it had risen to around 70 years, and China’s share of GDP had dramatically increased during that time. So, even during the Maoist period, it had seen a lot of economic progress and development. Before 1949, as Mobo Gao has shown, what we think of as China didn’t really exist. It was a land mass with many different ethnic groups, many different local languages, with regions and leaders often at war, in the middle of imperialist attacks and economic collapse. The Revolution actually unified the country.

Thank god I didn’t run across assholes like you in China.

You have no facts or studies to back anything up. Just a shit talking ignorant asshole.

This: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11606-018-4433-7

Despite this: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/09/04/no-clear-plan-fill-more-45000-job-vacancies-va.html

“No Clear Plan to Fill More Than 45,000 Job Vacancies at VA”

PHI administrative costs are on average nearly three times higher than for SSS. In addition to
limited risk and income sharing of PHI, their much higher administrative costs are
another disadvantage.

“U.S. Ranks Last Among Seven Countries on Health System Performance Measures”

I’m done with you.

Bwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-HA! Yeah, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Those hundred-billion dollar profits have zero to do with the cost of health care! The literally billions of dollars spent on “lobbying” and “campaign contributions” have zero to do with Congress ceding the USA to the looting class! The literally more-than-double the cost of prescription meds and medical devices in the USA have zero to do with the high cost of health care in the USA! It’s the fucking trial lawyers! Bwaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-HA!

You are not serious. You are a joke, Jack. You reply to none of our actual points, you just reel off empty anecdotes and nuggets of libertarian ideology as if you were making a point. See ya 'round, sweetie!

Sorry, have to respond one last time. You came here arrogant and ignorant, and are now just throwing shit against the wall to see if anything sticks. I was providing a context, showing that state-led forms of economic development across the world have lifted people out of poverty and did well during the Cold War period. Your free market fantasies have never led to actual development. European socialism and social democracy, social democracy in the US “won” the Cold War, and things have worsened since we moved away from that. In Asia, you have the “capitalist” success stories, which were one party states that employed a state-led form of economic development. The countries doing the worst are overwhelmingly the ones that have closely followed the free market playbook. You can throw out Venezuela (without knowing anything about the economy there or what came before Chavez), I can point to this. I win, you do not.

In China, I wasn’t glorifying the Maoist period, although I tried to provide more context. If I were to discuss the US as you do China, I would just point to slavery, the wiping out of the indigenous population, brutal imperialism and foreign wars, and I would say that was the US.
The US isn’t just that though, cause history is actually complex, even if you are clearly not.
Like the fact that there were famines in the 19th century in China that occurred under British rule that were actually worse than the horrible famine during the Great Leap Forward. Want to blame that on socialism too? The reason for persistent mass famines (which haven’t occurred since the GLF) is obvious, if you know China. It has among the lowest percentage of land available on Earth that can be used to grow food. Most of China is essentially a desert, as far as per capita water availability, and there is great regional variation. Most of the water is in southern China, near where I lived. In the past, it was a drought away from mass famine. I haven’t a clue where you get your 80,000,000 figure from, but like everything else you said, it probably just came from your silly head. What I can say is that famine under British rule in India was just as horrible too, and Amartya Sen studied the famine in Bengal in 1943 and showed that it was largely explained by decisions the government there made. His numbers show that famine under British rule in India was just as deadly as the famines in China in the last few centuries. But the question is how China went from the state it was in in 1949 to now overtaking the US as the largest economy in the world (taking PPP into account that is). It will be twice as big if current trends continue in a few decades. It didn’t get here by capitalism as you would define it. All modern countries developed behind state capitalism, social democracy or socialism. No economy developed behind free markets. So, your argument is kaput.

And this thread is about the environmental crisis. I have a background in ecological economics. There is no realistic way that capitalism can deal with the environmental crisis. Environmental impacts are missing in prices, we have reached the limits to growth in throughput and pollution generation, and there is no way to operate within sustainable limits without some form of coordination. Socialism, like capitalism, has a mixed record. But socialism in Sweden allows for a lot of democratic participation, and they have employed a democratic form of planning that we will have to use moving forward, unless people like you win and a brutal form of top down fascism is put in place. Capitalism as we know it will not survive the environmental crisis, one way or the other.

You can also stop pretending to be in a morally superior position if you defend the US and the West’s foreign policy, Western colonialism and imperialism, and the economic policies it has forced on poorer countries. The US in SE Asia, supporting all the coups and dictatorships for decades now. Right now we support about three quarters of the dictatorships worldwide, and we are majorly responsible for the condition that Central America is now in. King Leopold in the Congo? The British in China and India? The west when it made its way to modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic, North and South America? You on the one hand pretend to be in a morally superior position in throwing out some large number with Mao, but then deride other countries as “shit countries”, completely ignoring the extreme violence, Western imperialism, the drug war and the economic policies we forced on those countries. What a rotten person you are.


Once again, the technology we are using largely came out of the state sector. The capitalists came in and took the technology that was largely developed in the public sector. A majority of R & D funding for drug companies is publicly funded, and many drug companies now spend more on marketing than R & D. I hope your daughter can think with more clarity than you do, and doesn’t spout off like you do when she doesn’t know about what she is talking about. I really am gone now. Truly.

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Thanks for agreeing with me! ACA is an abomination of predatory corporate profiteering. You know it was written by the for-profit sector, right? You know it was based on Romneycare, which was drafted by the Heritage Foundation, right? You’re smart, and knowledgable, right?

Here’s one more for you Jack, 'cause i can sure use more laughs, and you’ve entirely avoided the topic of the article:

Tell us how capitalism solves the ecological crisis, stops the mass extinction that it is driving, stops the Arctic from melting, and averts climate catastrophe.


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