The relationship between ecology and the system is unsustainable

Öcalan: We are witnessing the beginning of a chain reaction that threatens a final breakdown. No one has any idea how to stop it.

The book The Sociology of Freedom: Manifesto of the Democratic Civilization, Volume III, written by Abdullah Öcalan and translated by Havin Guneser, will be published by PM Press

Here we publish an excerpt called Society’s Ecological Problem:

Clearly the problem of industrialism is both part of the ecological problem and its essential source. Thus, there is a risk of repetition as we assess this fundamental problem under a different heading. But the ecological problem makes more sense that the problem of industrialism, because it is a social and problematic issue. Although the concept encompasses environmental science, it is essentially a scientific analysis of the tight relationship between social development and its environment. It basically became an issue of concern when environmental problems raised the alarm about a rapidly approaching disaster. A branch of research arose as a result, although not entirely without undesirable implications. Because, like industrialism, the ecological problems were not created by society but are the latest feat of the monopolies of the civilization—a comprehensive problem that encompasses history and is now number one on the agenda of the world—and society. 

Perhaps no other problem has been either as severe or as important for revealing the true face of profit and capital systems (organized networks) and putting them on the humanity’s agenda as the ecological problem. The balance sheet of the civilization system of profit and capital (the sum of all military, economic, commercial, and religious monopolies throughout history) is not only the disintegration of society in every respect (immorality, lack of politics, unemployment, inflation, prostitution, etc.) but also the far-reaching threat faced by all life forms and by the environment. What could prove more strikingly that monopolism is anti-society? 

Although human society’s intelligence and flexibility mean that it is recognized as of the highest nature in comparison to all the other living beings, in the final analysis, it too is a living entity. It is of this earth, the product of a very precisely regulated climatic environment and the evolution of the flora and fauna. Our world’s atmosphere and climate and the plant and animal world are essential for human society as well, given that it constitutes the total sum of all. These worlds are highly sensitive and are closely connected.

They are in essence a chain, and just as a chain ceases to work when one of its links is broken, when an important link in the evolutionary chain is broken, all of evolution is inevitably affected. Ecology is the science of these developments, and that’s what makes it important. Humans can always reregulate the internal order of society, because social reality is a human creation, but the same is not true of the environment. If important environmental links are broken as a result of the actions of some groups organized around the profit and capital monopoly operating above the society from which it emerged, evolutionary disasters in a chain-like reaction might expose the environment and society to mass destruction. 

Let’s remember that the environmental links are the result of millions of years of evolution. The general destruction of the last five thousand years, the last two hundred in particular, has broken thousands of these evolutionary links in record time.

We are witnessing the beginning of a chain reaction that threatens a final breakdown. No one has any idea how to stop it. The atmospheric pollution created by carbon dioxide and other gases will take hundreds, even thousands, of years to clean up. We are probably not yet fully aware of the devastation this has caused the plant and animal world.

It is, however, clear that, like the atmosphere, both of these worlds are steadily emitting SOS signals. The pollution of the seas and rivers, as well as desertification, hover at the edge of disaster. Nonetheless, everything suggests that the end of the world will not occur as a result of the disruption of the natural balance but at the hands of some groups organized in networks. Of course, nature will inevitably respond, because it is alive and has an intelligence of its own and a limit to what it will endure. It will resist when the time and place are right, and when we arrive at that time and place, it will show us no mercy. We will all be held responsible for betraying the skills and values bestowed upon us. Is this not what the end of the world will look like? 

I don’t intend to add anything to the already existing disaster scenarios; but, according to our abilities, each of us must do and say what is necessary as responsible members of society. This is our responsibility and our moral and political duty, the very reason for our existence. 

Throughout human history much has been said about the fate of Nimrods and pharaohs who withdrew to their castles and pyramids—for obvious reasons. Each of these Nimrods and pharaohs, whether as indi- viduals or as an order, was a monopoly that laid claim to divinity. They were, in fact, the most sublime example of capital monopolies chasing profit during antiquity. Oh, how they resemble the monopolies that have withdrawn to the shopping malls in the cities! There are, of course, differences between them, but their essence remains the same. Despite their magnificence, castles and pyramids cannot compete with the present-day shopping malls, certainly not in numbers. The historical Nimrods and pharaohs don’t total more than a few hundred. But the number of contemporary Nimrods and pharaohs is already in the hundreds of thousands. In ancient times, humanity was unable to endure the weight of a few Nimrods and pharaohs and complained bitterly.

How much longer will it be able to endure the hundreds of thousands of them who have inflicted upon us far-reaching environmental devastation and the disintegration of society? How will it soothe the pain and agony of the war, unemployment, hunger, and poverty they have caused? 

In the light of evolutionary development, these facts must be emphasized, as they clarify what we mean when we talk about historical-society as a totality. Are these facts somehow trivial and insignificant? The science of capitalist modernity, with its positivist structure, was quite self-confident. It assumed major factual discoveries were everything. It regarded absolute truth to be a superficial knowledge of facts. It was sure that we had entered the age of infinite development.

How are we to interpret its inability to see the environmental disaster under its nose? How are we to understand the fact that it was unable to address and remedy the social disasters of the last four hundred years, which exceed in sum all previous historical disasters, including, most notably, war? Let’s put aside the prevention of war, which is power that has infiltrated into all the nooks and crannies of society.

How do we explain the fact that science has been unable to correctly evaluate this as the case? It is clear that science, especially during the era when the dominant monopolies were at the peak of their hegemony, did not, as expected, answer these questions, because it came under the most intense ideological siege and structurally conformed in the way that best served the system. Science, whose structure, goal, and manner are announced and organized to legitimize the system, has proven to be even less effective than religion. However, it is also clear that if science is not ideological it cannot exist. It is essential that we recognize the knowledge and science that are the ideology of a certain society and class and hence determine our positions accordingly.

If ecology, as one of the newer sciences, positions itself correctly within this framework it can provide the ideal capacity for resolving not only the environmental problem but also those of social nature.