New Right, fascism and globalisation

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Wed Aug 4 23:46:48 MDT 1999

Lou P writes:

>On the other hand, we are also dealing with a serious lack on the part of
>Marxism to come to terms with indigenous and environmental struggles.
>Welch's own sect, the CPGB, printed an article soon after LM aired its
>infamous Channel 4 documentary "Against Nature" that failed to come to
>grips with the pro-corporate tilt of the tv show. The answer to Veldman and
>Goldsmith is not "brown Marxism" but a class struggle orientation to
>indigenous and ecological struggles.

Perhaps "a class struggle orientation to indigenous and ecological
struggles" *is* "brown Marxist", whatever that means.  In other words, that
a Marxist orientation is to be highly critical towards these things.

On David Welch and the CPGB:
Although I disagree with the CPGB on a few important things, they generally
seem keen to engage a range of opinions in their paper and open it up to
other groups and to differences within the organisation.  Indeed they allow
public tendencies within their group, as far as I understand.  They also
fought very hard for a united left list in the recent Euro elections in
Britain, without regard to the fact that they would only be a small
minority within such an electoral bloc.

To dismiss people's views as those of a 'sect' every time they disagree
with one of your shibboleths is not helpful.

Now the substantive point/s:

One of the problems with your conception of indigenous and ecological
struggles is that you seem to find them inherently progressive.  I cannot
see that this is the case at all.

Ecological politics tend to defend the status quo, in particular in
alibi-ing the inability of capitalism to deliver *more* and *better*.
During the early 1970s phoney 'oil shortage', the Greens nicely gave the
oil cartles a hand by claiming that the 'shortage' was genuine and that the
world was running out of oil.  Of course, the shortage was actually one
contrived by the 'seven sisters' who controlled the global oil industry and
who wished to push up prices.  Known oil reserves now are larger than what
they were in 1973, even though we have used a huge amount of oil in the

Ecological politics, I would suggest, have an inherent conservatism.  Much
of what they are about is preserving an old world which may well have been
the best possible in its time, but is no longer so.  It is no wonder that
fascists are often attracted to ecology; the subjective impulse is the same.

On indigenous struggles, well there is a whole problem there as well, which
I am somewhat loath to get into as Lou and I are on quite good terms at
present, and this is one of the biggest differences between us and attempts
to get into it usually lead into all kinds of problems.

One of the big problems in terms of indigenous struggles is that there is
no way that pre-capitalist social formations can be preserved in the
capitlaist world economy.  So what usually happens is that indigenous
claims become a way of demanding resources in order to develop capitalist
enterprise and place a narrow layer of 'indigenous' leaders in the new
business ventures.

This process is highly developed in New Zealand in relation to Maori.
Becoming 'Maori' is a career move for a section of the middle class.  The
leader of the Ngai Tahu 'tribe' used to identify himself as 'Irish'; now
he's 'Maori' and his 'consultancy agency' earns several hundred thousand
dollars a year for 'services' it provides to Ngai Tahu Trust Board of which
he just happens to be the leader.  Ngai Tahu corporate headquarters
building alone employs 95 people.  Ngai Tahu is not a tribe, let alone a
nation; it is a business.  Indeed it is the largest corporate property
owner in the South Island.  And the much-vaunted attachment of Maori to
nature and the land and so on - which is not distinctly Maori but common to
all people, including Europeans, in precapitalist societies - goes right
out the window when possibilities for making big bucks from property sales
and 'development' arise.

Meanwhile the vast majority of Maori continue to be stuck in poverty, high
unemployment, high rates of imprisonment, and all the other statistics that
accompany sections of society being racially oppressed.  Attempts to
artifically preserve pre-capitalist culture, culture which has been pretty
completely corroded by 150 years of capitlaism anyway, is no solution at

Lou, we will probably disagree forever about this; but I think you have
bought into a crock.


More information about the Marxism mailing list