The Western Socialist
Vol. 34 - No. 259
No. 5, 1967
Water! The life-giving fluid without which man perishes! A dire necessity for any society and its use (or misuse) a serious problem for this one. While society as a whole has persisted down through the ages, societies have, for various reasons, disappeared from the face of the earth — "The place that knew them once knows them no more." It was in the yet warm seas of a slowly cooling planet that life on earth began, eons and eons ago and through a long and tortuous evolution reached its high point in modern man — egotistic "Homo Sapiens."
Society, as a whole, has persisted, but, as remarked above, whole societies have ceased to be, or have been compelled to change locale, for various reasons. The evidence would indicate that many of these were victims of more or less sudden disappearance of water.
The Sahara Desert gives us this picture, and in the time of the Biblical Abraham, the Euphratean Valley (that paradigm of The Garden of Eden) was a lush area, with every conceivable exotic fruit, etc. Sumer, Ur, and later Babylon, flourished and grew through the life-giving waters of the Euphrates and Tigris.
Today, this lush area is a sea of burning and shifting sand and the sites of those ancient cities merely hummocks in the surrounding desert. This great change in climate and dessication of the land was due to lack of water.
The "water problem" is one of great moment to any society, and modern capitalist society particularly so. Thus we find engineers and scientists, and of course, the inevitable politicians displaying real or feigned concern. Water pollution has become one of the "important" issues of the moment and no previous society has interfered with the ecology of nature to the extent that has capitalism in its two centuries of existence. This interference with the balance of nature can result in dire consequences. The raping of nature has occurred to a high degree under capitalism, but in no area of the earth has it reached such a dangerously high point as on the North American continent and more particularly in the United States.
Minerals ruthlessly torn from the bowels of the earth; the hideous scalping of "Good Earth" by strip mining; the violation of the virgin forest — all this we have witnessed within little more than a century. And all in the mad quest for profits —and quick ones at that!
Let us return to our main point—water. Streams, rivers and entire lakes polluted through the same mad race for profits, in this the "greatest" and most affluent society in history. Three fourths of the earth's surface is water. But fresh water — so necessary for life and wellbeing — is but a small percentage. And a considerable amount of that is locked in the Arctic ice caps.
Fresh water (without capitalism's pollutants) would become increasingly a matter for concern considering the "population explosion" — a matter which also gives the politicians subject matter for their sermonizings. But fresh water, polluted as it is today, is now in such short supply, that this society may be faced with the extinction that was the lot of previous ones. (Not overlooking the H. Bomb).
Where in history can one observe the migration of a people who polluted the waters of their destination as we have here in the U. S.? This country was first peopled (not counting the Indians) by a migrating white people, who found a vast area blessed with an abundance of natural resources, not the least being a water supply unequalled, anywhere. And in the relatively short time of the last century the descendants of those migrants have succeeded in polluting, among other waters, the entire body known as Lake Erie. For the, experts now tell us that the vast area of Lake Erie has been irremediably poisoned.
This is but one of those wonderful achievements of this "Greatest of all social systems."
The only answer of account to this and all other problems of modern society is the replacing of this profit-hungry system by one of co-operation, democracy and common sense, where not only our water supply, but our food, etc. shall be available to all, in its purest possible form. That is socialism and nothing else matters very much.