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Una FAQ Anarchica - Cosa propongono gli eco-anarchici invece del capitalismo?

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[modifica] E.1 What do eco-anarchists propose instead of capitalism?

In place of capitalism, eco-anarchists favour ecologically responsible forms of libertarian socialism (see section I), with an economy based on the principles of complementarity with nature; decentralisation of large-scale industries, reskilling of workers, and a return to more artisan-like modes of production; the use of environment-friendly technologies, energy sources, and products; the use of recycled raw materials and renewable resources; and worker-controlled enterprises responsive to the wishes of local community assemblies and labour councils in which decisions are made by direct democracy. (See, e.g. Murray Bookchin, Toward and Ecological Society and Remaking Society). Such an economy would be "steady-state," meaning that the rate of resource depletion would equal the rate of renewal and that it would not be subject to disastrous collapses in the absence of quantitative growth or stimulation by military spending.

As Bookchin emphasises, however, the ecological crisis stems not only from capitalism but from the principle of domination itself (see D.4) -- a principle embodied in institutional hierarchies and relations of command and obedience which pervade society at many different levels. Thus, "[w]ithout changing the most molecular relationships in society -- notably, those between men and women, adults and children, whites and other ethnic groups, heterosexuals and gays (the list, in fact, is considerable) -- society will be riddled by domination even in a socialistic 'classless' and 'non-exploitative' form. It would be infused by hierarchy even as it celebrated the dubious virtues of 'people's democracies,' 'socialism' and the 'public ownership' of 'natural resources,' And as long as hierarchy persists, as long as domination organises humanity around a system of elites, the project of dominating nature will continue to exist and inevitably lead our planet to ecological extinction" [Toward an Ecological Society, p. 76].

So, although we focus our attention below on the economic aspects of the ecological crisis and its solution, it should be kept in mind that a complete solution must be multi-dimensional, addressing all aspects of the total system of hierarchy and domination. This means that only anarchism, with its emphasis on the elimination of coercive authority in all areas of life, goes to the real root of the ecological crisis.

[modifica] E.1.1 Why do eco-anarchists favour workers' control?

Eco-anarchists advocate workers' control of the economy as a necessary component of a steady-state economy. This means society-wide ownership of the means of production and all productive enterprises self-managed by their workers, as described further in section I.

Most ecologists, even if they are not anarchists, recognise the pernicious ecological effects of the capitalist "grow or die" principle; but unless they are also anarchists, they usually fail to make the connection between that principle and the hierarchical form of the typical capitalist corporation. In contrast, eco-anarchists emphasise that socially owned and worker self-managed firms, especially the type in which surpluses are shared equally among all full-time members, would be under far less pressure toward rapid expansion than the traditional capitalist firm.

The slower growth rate of co-operatives has been documented in a number of studies, which show that in the traditional capitalist firm, owners' and executives' percentage share of profits greatly increases as more employees are added to the payroll. This is because the corporate hierarchy is designed to facilitate exploitation by funnelling a disproportionate share of the surplus value produced by workers to those at the top of the pyramid (see C.2, "Where do profits come from?") Such a design gives ownership and management a very strong incentive to expand, since, other things being equal (e.g. no recession), their income rises with every new employee hired. Hence the hierarchical form of the capitalist corporation is one of the main causes of runaway growth. [See e.g. Henry Levin "Employment and Productivity of Producer Co-operatives," in Robert Jackall and Henry Levin (eds.), Worker Co-operatives in America, UC Press, 1984; cf. David Schweickart, Against Capitalism].

By contrast, in an equal-share worker co-operative, the addition of more members simply means more people with whom the available pie will have to be equally divided -- a situation that immensely reduces the incentive to expand. Thus a libertarian-socialist economy will be able to function in a stationary state, requiring neither an expanding population nor technological innovation at a pace sufficient to guarantee increased production. Moreover, it will be able to switch from a growth state to a stationary state without excessive disruption. For if consumers start buying less, this will increase leisure time among producers, which will be shared by those firms affected first and then gradually spreading to other sectors. For these reasons, libertarian socialism based on producer co-operatives is essential for the type of steady-state economy necessary to solve the ecological crisis.

[modifica] E.1.2 Why do eco-anarchists emphasise direct democracy?

The eco-anarchist argument for direct (participatory) democracy is that effective protection of the planet's ecosystems requires that ordinary citizens be able to take part at the grassroots level in decision-making that affects their environment, since they are more likely to favour stringent environmental safeguards than the large, polluting special interests that now dominate the "representative" system of government. Thus a solution to the ecological crisis presupposes participatory democracy in the political sphere -- a transformation that would amount to a political revolution.

However, as Bakunin emphasised, a political revolution of this nature must be preceded by a socioeconomic revolution based on workers' self-management. This is because the daily experience of participatory decision-making, non-authoritarian modes of organisation, and personalistic human relationships in small work groups would foster creativity, spontaneity, responsibility, independence, and respect for individuality -- the qualities needed for a directly democratic political system to function effectively.

Given the amount of time that most people spend at the workplace, the political importance of turning it into a training ground for the development of libertarian and democratic values can scarcely be overstated. As history has demonstrated, political revolutions that are not preceded by mass psychological transformation -- that is, by a deconditioning from the master/slave attitudes absorbed from the current system -- result only in the substitution of new ruling elites for the old ones (e.g. Lenin becoming the new "Tsar" and Communist Party aparatchiks becoming the new "aristocracy"). Therefore, besides having a slower growth rate, worker co-operatives with democratic self-management would lay the psychological foundations for the kind of directly democratic political system necessary to protect the biosphere. Thus "green" libertarian socialism is the only proposal radical enough to solve the ecological crisis.

In contrast, free market capitalism (an extreme example of this viewpoint being right-wing "libertarianism") not only cannot solve the ecological crisis but would in fact exacerbate it. Besides the fact that right libertarians do not propose to dismantle capitalism, which is necessarily based on "grow or die," they also do not wish to dismantle the hierarchical structure of the capitalist firm, which contributes its own greed-driven pressure for expansion, as discussed above. (Indeed, right-libertarian literature is full of arguments showing that hierarchical firms are necessary for reasons of "efficiency.") But since there would be no state regulatory apparatus to mitigate any of the negative ecological effects of capitalist expansion, "free market" capitalism would be even more environmentally malignant than the present system.

In sections E.2, to E.5 we discuss and refute some spurious free market capitalist "solutions" to the ecological crisis. Section E.7 discusses why "green consumerism," another basic capitalist assumption, is also doomed to failure.

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