Feedback on Marxism, ecology and the American Indian from apst reader

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sun Nov 7 13:18:56 MST 1999



Thanks for this interesting and topical posting.  After wading through so
much sectariana and sterile point-scoring in this group, I'd been on verge
of dropping it as a waste of time and info-space,  so it makes a refreshing
change to read something useful and raising the level.

I remember Harry Rothman saying that Marx and Engels had said that we change
our environment, but cannot do as we please with it,  nature exacts its
revenge.  Also that they welcomed the development of artificial fertilisers
etc but predicted that because of the growth and scale of the chemical
industry, the capital involved, and its need for markets,  these fertilisers
would be over-used, and this would destroy the soil.  Harry wrote a book
called "Murderous Providence",  do you know it?  Another book with which you
probably are familiar is Jesue de Castro's "Geography of Hunger",  dealing
with nutrition and the causes of widespread malnutrition,  it was published
in the 1950s, but re-issued later as "The Geopolitics of Hunger".  It shows
how capitalism underdeveloped whole areas,  with plantation workers worse
fed than their peasant and fishing grandparents who had been able to feed
themselves healthily.

The first articles on ecology from a political standpoint that I read were
published in the Young Socialist (SLL) paper here back in the late
1960s/early 1970s, at that time few people on the Left (or for that matter
generally) here were aware of such issues.  The articles told of a river in
the US so full of chemicals it was classified as a fire risk, and went on to
describe how unthinking development in the Soviet Union had also created
huge problems, such as with the Aral Sea.

Unfortunately, these pioneering articles were an isolated example so far as
I know, and did not lead to further development.  In more recent years we've
had more shallow and opportunist alliances in which the Left is content to
go along with others ideas rather than developing a Marxist perspective.
(alternatively we have the vulgar "progress"-ism by which a sect like those
around "Living Marxism" provide a gloss-cover for the reactionary politics
of big polluting corporations).

So once again, thanks for this posting.

Charlie Pottins


Louis Proyect
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