Category 4 Hurricane Michael battered the coast of the Florida Panhandle October 10, before moving through Georgia, the Carolinas, and on to Virginia. Michael, which came less than a month after Hurricane Florence, was reportedly the most powerful storm ever to hit the Panhandle. It left death and massive destruction in its wake, including nearly obliterating the entire town of Mexico Beach where it made landfall.
Meanwhile, on October 8, two days before Michael hit Florida, a news report by the United Nations' leading body on climate science, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that the climate crisis is not a far-off problem--it's happening right now, and it's accelerating more quickly and having more devastating impacts much sooner than previously understood. The report called for radical, "unprecedented" transformations starting immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels to prevent a global catastrophe. A co-chair of the group of 91 scientists from 40 different countries who wrote the report calls the next few years "probably the most important in our history."
In this series on Hurricane Florence, we examine how the capitalist-imperialist system of today fuels such hurricanes and worsens the death and destruction, and we start to grapple with why and how it would be radically different in a genuinely socialist society.
* * * *
On September 14, Hurricane Florence slammed into the North Carolina coast with rain and winds gusting to 90 miles an hour. Its storm surge flooded some coastal areas. It then moved inland, dumping as much as 30-40 inches of rain across North and South Carolina, as far as hundreds of miles inland.
Two weeks later, those rains drained down from mountains in the west. The gushing water caused rivers to crest at record levels and some towns to flood. One dam breached and flooded a coal-fired power plant, causing the release of poisonous coal ash into the Cape Fear River.
At least 48 people have been killed so far, 37 of them in North Carolina. A one-year-old was ripped from his parent's arms by surging floodwaters. Two mental health patients were drowned when the sheriff's van they were being transported in was flooded (the two deputies driving escaped unharmed). A million and a half people were forced to evacuate. Whole cities and towns were flooded. Countless homes were destroyed. Over a million lost power for hours or days. Toxic waste and chemicals were released into the environment. And now more storms are building in the Atlantic.
Hurricanes are natural occurrences.
But there is nothing "natural" about how hurricanes like Florence are becoming increasingly frequent, powerful, and devastating.
There is nothing "natural" about who is--or isn't--able to escape and recover from the storm's impact.
There's nothing "natural" about why so many are living in harm's way.
And there's nothing "natural" about why power plants, chemical factories, and industrial pig farms--with all their toxic wastes--are placed in flood plains.
So, again, Florence was a natural occurrence--but some of the worst effects of the storm have been created, shaped, or greatly magnified by the workings of capitalism-imperialism. Under this system, decisions like where people live, how food is produced, and how power is generated are all ultimately determined by what's most profitable and filtered through the oppressive social relations this system has inherited and maintains.
All this is heartbreaking, foul, and utterly UNNECESSARY! It could--and would--be handled in a radically different way in a revolutionary society aiming for a communist world free of all exploitation and oppression, as concretely laid out in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (CNSRNA), authored by Bob Avakian.
As the Introductory Explanation to that Constitution makes clear: "In order to bring this new socialist state into being, it would be necessary to thoroughly defeat, dismantle and abolish the capitalist-imperialist state of the USA; and this in turn would only become possible with the development of a profound and acute crisis in society and the emergence of a revolutionary people, in the millions and millions, who have the leadership of a revolutionary communist vanguard and are conscious of the need for revolutionary change and determined to fight for it."
Implementing these radical and liberating transformations will--and must--be a tumultuous process, full of ferment and struggle. It will involve, as the CNSRNA spells out, leading on the basis of the "solid core," towards the goal of the complete emancipation of all of humanity, as part of a worldwide process. On that foundation, the new state will encourage discussion and debate, dissent and struggle, as well as create space for a wide range of activities and initiatives, over how to solve the problems facing the new society and move toward uprooting all forms of oppression, all over the world.