Blog of Emancipation

We also publish
The Marxist Dictionary (EN)
and the School of Marxism (ES).

Emancipation Statements


  • You may also find usefull our Navigation Map: all our articles in English ordered by section and date.

The crisis of environmentalism

2022-11-06 | Critique of ideology
The crisis of environmentalism

How did environmentalism become a state ideology?

During the last years of the last decade, environmentalism began to be adopted by the ruling classes in Europe and in part of the USA, as a new state ideology. The need of capital to accelerate the transfer of income from labor that defines the Green Deal and the crisis of state political apparatuses that was then becoming generalized, prompted them to sponsor-if not directly create using the network of state schools-movements such as Youth for Climate.

The opinion industry had erected environmentalism as its banner and was hellbent, with unusual tenacity, on providing it with front pages and television time. With the aim of generating a sense of catastrophe and emergency that would make the Sacred Climate Union acceptable, they turned real apocalyptic sects like Extinction Rebellion and ideologues like Andreas Malm into protagonists.

They didn't care that climate scientists themselves warned against the counterproductive effect of clearly false messages or that supposed global mobilizations drew fewer people than a local strike. It was neither about disseminating facts nor warning about climate change, it was about creating a mass movement that would create a social base to the Green Deal that promised to rejuvenate the capital of the most capitalized countries.

Meanwhile, the candidacies of the Greens, indirect beneficiaries of the global campaign, gave respite both in France and in Germany to the state parties in their struggles with the electoral expressions of the petty bourgeoisie.

Why does the Ukrainian war put environmentalism as a whole in crisis?

Close-up of a Spiegel cover illustration of the Greens and their militarism.

Close-up of a Spiegel cover illustration of the Greens and their militarism.

But the Greens were not only a possible renewal of the offer of the state parties. As has been seen in France, they are also the European party most clearly aligned with the US and the Bidenist imperialist strategy of trade and technological war against Russia and China.

In Germany, where they hold among others the foreign portfolio, they are not only more pro-US than the CDU or the FDP to ridiculous levels -such as signing US executives of the Democratic Party as German secretaries of state- they are also the most violently militaristic and warmongering political force. So much so that the already pro-US Der Spiegel now reproaches them for their excessive warmongering enthusiasm -which goes far beyond what the German bourgeoisie considers it can do without ruining itself for good- and refers to them as the olive greens.

And the fact is that to combine the continuation of the war with Russia -and therefore the rupture with the affordable sources of energy supply used up to now- with a green program which includes shutting down every last nuclear plant immediately, is not at all easy. It is not even easy for German capital, which is already facing enough industrial closures due to rising energy costs not to worry. Moreover, they see how the green anti-nuclear rush is eroding their influence in the EU countries, which are called upon to subordinate their energy consumption to sustain German industry. The European press even spoke of anger in the neighboring countries.

But in reality, the contradictions of the European ruling classes with the Greens are only a minor symptom of a major contradiction: their contradictions with the Green Deal.

The German and European gas drama, a foreseeable consequence of waging an imperialist war of attrition against their own suppliers, is pushing the European powers into an increasingly uncomfortable situation. And it is not only that emissions are increasing because of the return to lignite and coal, even in Germany.

For example, the automotive industry in Europe, which is seeing its electric cars being shut out by an ungrateful US, is becoming increasingly uneasy about the ban on the sale of combustion cars in 2030 (and on them being circulated in 2035). And if it were not clear that the Green Deal is only marginally concerned with climate change, the solution offered by the European Commission could not be more contradictory: maintaining sales of combustion vehicles abroad.

In this environment, environmentalism nurtured with so much emphasis until recently is starting to become redundant for the European ruling classes. Especially after what they call its radicalization.

Where has catastrophist environmentalism gone when it has felt "abandoned" by the state?

Green vandalism and teen protest in London

Green vandalism and teen protest in London

Even the most state-produced movement has its own inertia. As the media pressure already during the pandemic subsided, sectors of the apocalyptic and youth movements mobilized in the previous years began to take new forms. Deep Green Resistance or Lezte Generation began to demand to be recognized and treated as heirs of Greta Thunberg by the media. In part they are succeeding, although at the cost of actions that are selling ever more poorly to the well-informed public.

Going one step closer to vandalism has gone hand in hand with a greater schematization of the message, a notable self-absorption and some frankly absurd tactical objectives. According to them, the fact that the Paris objective - limiting temperature rise to 1.5┬║ by 2100 - cannot be met is synonymous with a global slaughter that is equivalent to the famous mass extinction defended against all scientific evidence by Extinction Rebellion. But the development of militarism and war, which is already a slaughter in progress and with a much nearer brutal horizon, does not seem to concern them. On the other hand they claim to want media attention in order to place the issue on the agenda, when climate change is already an omnipresent issue in the media.

But it seems that all this could be just a transitional phase. Where to? For the moment toward more violent language. Malm's latest book is titled "How to blow up a pipeline", the Lazte Generation forums are peppered with verbal enthusiasms about the need for an environmentalist RAF (the RAF, also known as the Waader-Meinhoff gang was a terrorist organization funded by the GDR). Climate catastrophism would not be the first or the last movement that escapes from the hands of the ruling class to become entrenched in a criminal-militaristic form.

And that is what worries the bourgeoisie. Now they remind us that they had only launched a shoddy marketing campaign, that they did not expect that a discourse in which the bad guy is the human species and in whose ultimate utopia Humanity does not even exist, would eternalize by itself. Now they discover that the similarities between the apocalyptic discourse and the puritanical witch-hunting discourse are too many to be ignored. And they are beginning to be shocked by expressions such as "climate dictatorship", which they themselves created and repeated for years impassively in order to fuel the Green Deal.

Neither one nor the other can see or confess the material basis of the political impotence they display: It is not the human species that causes climate change, but capitalism and its ruling classes. The immediate and constant threat to the survival of the species is not climate change but a system increasingly antagonistic to human life that is now definitely oriented towards the development of imperialist war.

What will become of environmentalism?

  • The acceleration of the Green Deal in the midst of a war against its main energy supplier is increasingly contradictory for the European ruling classes.
  • Political environmentalism has proved to be the expression of the tendencies most favorable to the militaristic and warmongering acceleration and the most faithful ally of the US government's policy of war against Russia and China.
  • Catastrophist environmentalism, which was encouraged during the campaign to sell the "Sacred Climate Union" as a global media phenomenon, is also rapidly falling out of favor as the states feel insecure about the deadlines and timing of the implementation of the Green Deal.
  • Abandoned by the state, the catastrophist movements, despite their original artificiality, have their own inertia... and drift towards increasingly empty, violent and delirious practices and languages expressing the political impotence of their own foundations: blaming Humanity for a capitalist disaster imposed and exploited by its ruling classes and making invisible the real slaughter already underway not only through climate change, but above all through imperialist war and famine.