WSM Points of Unity Explained: 9 - Ecology and Technology


'9. Revolution must aim to bring human society into harmony with the rest of nature, for our own basic quality of life and for the sake of other species. This aim is not fundamentally opposed to technological development or mass society, which are always expressions of the current social system. Rather, we strive for a libertarian, ecological, technology.'

When we consider the billions of barren, lifeless, planets in our universe, it is a stark reminder of how vital the physical environment is to the existence and flourishing of life. The proper balance and functioning of the Earth’s climate and ecosystems is the basis of everything good on our planet – access to food, water, tolerable temperature, and shelter from extreme weather.

In recent decades, humans have seriously begun to unravel that crucial balance and functioning, threatening irreversible, catastrophic, damage to both our own societies and to the livelihoods of other species. The threat to humanity is not an abrupt 'bullet-to-the-head' scenario where we quickly go extinct, but a long, slow, painful, decline into barbarism. The primary cause is human-caused climate change. There is a small, closing, window of opportunity to halt and reverse this process, which urgently calls us all to action, action which will involve substantial change both at the highest institutional levels and in our day-to-day lives.

However, we do not accept that this destruction is a ‘natural’, inevitable, fact of Homo sapiens. Rather, it is the predictable outcome of an irrational social system governed by a small minority, which demands infinite material growth, while having no method of accounting for ecological costs. That system is capitalism, and the state as its sibling institution has been equally incapable of executing the changes necessary to restore balance.

We cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking which produced it. The only adequate solution is to fundamentally transform our societies, re-writing its basic driving forces, and the way we relate to one another. Ecological harmony and sustainability must become the new ‘bottom-line’. This is only possible within the direct democratic, co-operative, rational, framework of libertarian socialism.

Some respond to this crisis by blaming technology and large-scale settlements themselves, advocating a return to a much simpler time, often a life within small bands of hunter gatherers. We reject that conclusion both because it is not feasible to return over 7 billion humans to such an existence and because we believe it is possible and preferable to live in a mass, technological, society which is both free and in harmony with the rest of nature, albeit one which would be practically unrecognisable from today.

Neither technology nor human nature are the critical issue. We, of course, recognise the great harm caused by technologies used inappropriately (such as supercomputers used to game the stock market), or technologies which are definite products of a society based on greed, warfare, and control (such as Facebook, the stealth bomber, and tear gas). However, we also recognise the enormous liberatory potential of technology, much of which has been actualised already even within an unfree world (Wikipedia, anaesthetic, prosthetic limbs, central heating). Automation is a clear illustration of these two possibilities. Under capitalism and the state it will destroy jobs, sharpen war, and bolster repression. Under anarchism, it could free us from toil to pursue our highest natures. The choice is ours.

We emphasise that humans are not the centre of the universe, the only species which counts. Humans should use our uniquely advanced capacity to reason, co-operate, and work for an altruistic purpose, to be stewards of planet Earth for the sake of all species, rather than irresponsibly plundering and vandalising the home we share.

This is one in a series of short articles explaining the WSM Points of Unity.
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To read all the WSM Points of Unity, click here.
This is the last Point of Unity. To read about the first - Class Struggle and Leadership of Ideas - click here.