The Western Socialist
Vol. 30 - No. 231
No. 1, 1963
Water pollution is one of the many problems closely woven into the fabric of capitalist society. Pollution is chiefly caused by industrial waste. There are few streams of any size in industrialized areas that are completely free of pollution.
Clean water is essential to the conservation of wild life. Prior to capitalism man depended on nature to protect the water. Natural wastes were once diluted by the running water, oxidized by bacteria, then used for fertilizer by the plants in the river and filtered through the gravel and sand of the stream, reaching wild life in a clear and healthy form.
Capitalism has changed all this. Nature is no longer able to run its natural course. With the growth of industry huge amounts of polluting material are daily poured into every sizable stream, so much so that human life itself is endangered.
Thanks to discoveries of men like Koch, Leeuwenhoek, Pasteur and others, man has been made aware of the harmful effects of viruses existing even in clear water. We can therefore assume the dangers lurking in water saturated in today's often reckless use of chemicals like insecticides and weed killers, detergents and, of course, radioactivity.
Some of the offal responsible for pollution of water supplies is made up of body waste, dirty water and refuse from laundries, restaurants, hotels and hospitals. By far the greatest amount, however, comes from oils, greases, chemicals, acids and other wastes from industrial establishments.
Capitalism has no effective way of dealing with this problem. Anxiety is created only to the extent that pollution interferes with the making of profits. Apart from this, official concern for the general well-being is rarely sufficient to overcome the cost involved.
The health of humans is not a decisive factor in the operations of modern society. Factories are usually built where raw materials, transportation and other conditions exist conducive to economical operation. More healthful locations are not considered if they are less economical.
This is among our many reasons for advocating socialism. In a society concerned only with the well-being of its members, pollution will cease to be a problem. The wastes created by man in his daily life and production of wealth will be rendered harmless to man and to nature; for considerations of cost and profit will no longer be matters of concern.
The pollutions of capitalism can be ended only with the ending of history's greatest pollution — capitalism.