The recent onslaught of rainfall in California, dropping over a foot of rain in some places, and culminating in the massive storm that battered San Diego on January 22, stands as a stark reminder of the dire consequences of climate change in the era of capitalism’s implosive decay.
In San Diego, a city wearing the unenviable crown of “America’s most expensive,” the downpour led to catastrophic flooding. Streets turned into rivers, whole neighborhoods became swamps, and hundreds of residents found themselves clinging to rooftops in a desperate attempt to avoid being swallowed by the deluge. And what was the response from city and state officials, funded by the highest income taxes in the country? Unhurried, inadequate, and utterly unforgivable.
Budget constraints are the culprit, we are told. On this point we can agree with the bourgeois officials, the California budget is constrained. That is, the lion’s share of the budget is used to repress low-income neighborhoods through policing. San Diego is a prime example of the state’s priorities, with “progressive” Democratic Mayor Todd Gloria raising the police budget by $14 million just this year. We could not ask for clearer proof that the system serves only the rich few at the expense of the majority.
With such tight budget constraints, preventative measures to mitigate the effects of these erratic weather patterns are almost out of the question. In this interview, it was reported that a city worker admitted as much, saying that it had been four years since the storm drains had been cleared in some neighborhoods. In these low-income neighborhoods of Southeast San Diego, at least four casualties have been reported due to the floods, including one person who was electrocuted by a damaged electrical system after the storm had passed, having received no warning of this danger from city officials. Bodies continue to be found washing through storm drains and rivers.
Due to the extreme and unexpected nature of the latest capitalism-induced climate horror to strike San Diego, almost no home owners in the affected area possess flood insurance. The result: many will be forced to finally sell their homes cheap to speculators who have had their eye on these holdout neighborhoods—which coexist alongside some of the country’s most expensive real estate—for decades.
This is the logic of capitalism, a system that continually puts people in harm’s way for the sake of profit, leaving us vulnerable and exposed to the ravages of the climate catastrophe exacerbated by the system itself.
As workers, we have a choice: we can either watch passively as the capitalists and their henchmen in political power continue to provoke climate disasters and kick their feet up as whole communities are destroyed, or we can get to work building the revolutionary communist party that is needed to end this nightmare once and for all.
Such a party would unite the working class in an implacable struggle against the capitalist system, aiming to win political power and place workers in control of the commanding heights of the economy. Today, nearly a million Californians are unemployed, searching desperately for work. These people could be gainfully employed under a workers’ government, at quality wages and with union protections, to help implement a serious strategy to mitigate the worst effects of climate change in the region, including rebuilding and expanding the infrastructure that has continually failed us in this epoch of unprecedented storms. Only through the collective struggle of the working class can we hope to confront the existential threat of climate change and build a society that serves us all, not just the wealthy few.