The Prospects For Martian Socialism

Hugo Chavez notes the possibility that avaricious capitalism is responsible for the collapse of Martian civilization:

“I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet,” Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day. Chavez, who also holds capitalism responsible for many of the world’s problems, warned that water supplies on Earth were drying up.

It’s worth noting that the prospects for a socialist revolution on Mars are explored in both Alexei Tolstoy’s novel Aelita and its 1924 silent film adaptation Aelita: The Queen of Mars. The book’s not very good, but the movie’s a great example of the constructivist style that was popular in early Soviet days. The suggestion is that socialist revolution on Mars is likely to fail, and for this reason the film fell into ideological disfavor.

Meanwhile, though I’ve seen a lot of people mocking the Mars bit, Chavez is clearly correct that actually existing capitalism is putting the world on a path to catastrophe. If scarce natural resources like water and the atmosphere’s capacity to absorb carbon emissions were actually being priced correctly, there’s no reason hypothetical capitalism would be unsustainable. But that’s not how the contemporary global economic system works, and unless we change it we’re going to face big problems. Unfortunately, the conservative movement in America is rabidly opposed to even modest efforts to conserve fish stocks through a system of property rights, being committed instead to an ideological vision of relentless exploitation of the commons.