Toward Democratic Eco-socialism
as the Next World System

10. Increasing Social Equality and Achieving
a Sustainable Global Population

Book cover: Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor by Rob Nixon

While some redistribution of wealth has been achieved under capitalism at various historical junctures and particularly in developed societies with strong labor unions and left-of-center governments, social inequality is an inevitable dimension of the capitalist world system. Ultimately, a shift toward greater social equality or parity will require transcending global capitalism and moving toward a democratic eco-socialist world system.

Socialists have, over the years, engaged in intense debates about what sort of wage differentials should exist under socialism. Frank Stilwell [2000] in Changing Track argues that a 3:1 ratio of the highest to lowest incomes would be a tolerable standard for a socialist society. In reality, there are other compensations for work than material rewards, such as the intrinsic rewards of intellectual and even physical stimulation, and the sense that one has contributed to the greater good. Needless to say, as long as rich people and corporations exist, progressive taxation that does not allow for tax loopholes constitutes an important mechanism for redistributing wealth.

Book cover: Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism by Victor Wallis

Many middle-class environmentalists who posit population growth as the principal ecological problem appear to want to maintain more or less their present material standard of living, albeit on a planet with far fewer people. However, in reality, bringing down population growth will require the eradication of poverty, which from an eco-socialist perspective should go hand-in-hand with creating a high degree of social equality.

Copyright © 2016

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