On the BP Oil Disaster

The following statement was made by an IBT supporter at a meeting in Toronto on 5 June:

The BP oil spill, already by far the worst environmental disaster in North American history, is going to damage the ecosystem in ways that may well prove irreparable. The lake of toxic sludge suffocating the flora and fauna along the Louisiana coast has now reached Florida and may well go far beyond.

The depraved indifference shown by BP, Halliburton, Transamerica and their bought-and-paid-for government "regulators" points directly to the root of the problem -- the capitalist principle of profit maximization. Eleven workers were killed and many more injured in the original calamity; and many thousands of people whose livelihoods depend, directly or indirectly, on the Gulf fisheries are facing destitution. The health of tens of thousands more has been endangered by the toxic mixture of petrochemicals and dispersants.

Capitalism's perverse logic is exemplified by the fact that BP management drilled the well without even bothering to work out any contingency plan in case things went wrong. Instead they spent their money on a lavish PR campaign boasting about BP's concern for the environment and claiming to be "Beyond Petroleum."

Millions of people watching this disaster unfold have seen that BP's overriding imperative has been to minimize the consequences for itself and its shareholders and to offload the costs onto society. Many ordinary Americans instinctively recognize that there is something profoundly wrong with a system in which private profit trumps all else. A tiny handful of big capitalists ravages the planet while the vast majority of humanity is treated as raw material to be exploited or tossed aside according to the business cycle.

The solution is obvious -- Big Oil should be expropriated without compensation. But no capitalist government -- Democrat or Republican -- is going to implement such a measure. Only a revolutionary workers' party, at the head of all those exploited and oppressed by capitalism, can put an end, once and for all, to the destructive irrationality of this antiquated social system. The catastrophe in the Gulf simply would not have happened under a rationally-planned, socialist economy geared to meeting human need rather than generating private profit.

Posted: 6 June 2010