Green Challenge

Chris Burford cburford at
Fri Jan 27 15:57:25 MST 1995

I am very pleased with how serious the response has been
on this list to the challenges in the real world of the
enormous gap in economic fortunes between peoples of the
north and south.

A closely related issue in the real world of enormous importance
has not been obvious to me on the list since I first read it on 30th
November, the environment. Louis Proyect has now put this on the

> For me, the most interesting philosophical questions have to do with
> the Green challenge to Marxism.

Isn't it merely a matter of time before this list attracts input
from and makes links with the green movement? What fundamental
theoretical reason could possibly exist for separation? Indeed what
is the challenge?

The hooks are there. eg Engels "The Part Played by Labour in
the Transition from Ape to Man" June 1876:

"...animals change external nature by their activities just as
man does, even if not to the same extent, and these changes
effected by them in their environment, as we have seen, in turn
react upon and change their originators. For in nature nothing
takes place in isolation. Everything affects everything else and
vice versa, and it is mainly because this all-sided motion and
interaction is forgotten that our natural scientists are prevented
from seeing the simplest things clearly.
... let us not flatter ourselves overmuch for our human victories over
nature. For every such victory it takes its revenge on us. Indeed,
each in the first place brings about the consequences on which we counted,
but in the second and third place it has quite different, unforseen effects
which only too often cancel out the first ones. The people who
destroyed the forests in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere to
obtain cultivable land never dreamed that they were laying the
basis for the present desolation of those countries by removing the
collecting centres and containers of moisture along with the forests.
Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature
like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside
nature - but that we with flesh, blood and brain belong to nature and
exist in its midst ..."

Chris Burford
Community Psychiatrist, specialising in schizophrenia.
Member of the Forum for Marxism, Philosophy and Science,
and the Southern Africa Economic Research Unit, SAERU.

London                                   "Only connect..."


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