Marxism, ecology and the American Indian

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Nov 9 16:24:27 MST 1999

Dear Louis,

Thanks for sending your piece on "Marxism, Ecology and the American Indian"
to me.  I found it to be an important statement--one with which I for the
most part agreed.  I only have one substantive comment to make, related to
your argument on indigenous populations. I think the most powerful
theoretical analysis in this area has arisen in recent years in the new
field of ethnoecology, which is especially concerned with the value of
subsistence production in indigenous communities.  What is especially
interesting is that one of the founders of this field, and probably the most
important ethnoecologist, Eugene Hunn, bases his analysis on Marx's writings
on precapitalist societies and ethnology in general.  Marx's emphasis on
communal relations and subsistence production is here used to develop a
critique of the destruction of indigenous communities by expanding
capitalist society.  (This is a topic that I discuss in my forthcoming book,
MARX'S ECOLOGY, due out next month.)  Also I think that one should be
careful about condemning Engels based on the use of such terms as "savagery"
and "civilization" since such terms had specific anthropological meanings in
his day (see Morgan) that are different from the way in which the terms are
used today.  Remember that when the Zulus smashed the British army in South
Africa Engels cheered!

Louis Proyect
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