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Zero growth. Capitalism is primarily an economic system of competitive capital accumulation out of the surplus value produced by wage labour. As a system it must continually accumulate or go into crisis. Consequently, human needs and the needs of our natural environment take second place to this imperative. The result is waste, pollution, environmental degradation and unmet needs on a global scale. The ecologist’s dream of a sustainable ‘zero growth’ within capitalism will always remain just that, a dream.

However, on the new basis of common ownership, democratic control and production solely for use, socialist society will be able to sustain a stable and sympathetic relationship with nature. After clearing up the mess left by capitalism and a possible initial increase in production to eliminate poverty, production can be expected to settle down and level off at a level sufficient to provide for human and environmental needs. (See also ECOLOGY; NEEDS; SOCIALISM.)


David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction, 1996