Towards a Seductive Red & Green Synthesis (was Re: GlobalWarming?)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sun Dec 10 11:02:45 MST 2000

Eli Moskowitz posts:

>John Thornton: "I still don't see how you can consider the work of
>Michaels, Balling, Lindzen, and Idso relatively unbiased."
>Ross Gelbspan, "The Heat is On":
>The skeptics are virtually unanimous in accusing their mainstream
>scientific colleagues of exaggerating the magnitude of the climate
>problem in order to perpetuate their own government research funding.
>But that argument cuts both ways. While testifying in St. Paul, Pat
>Michaels revealed under oath that he had received more than $165,000
>in industry and private funding over the previous five years'
>funding he had never previously disclosed. Not only did Western
>Fuels fund both his publications, he disclosed, but it provided a
>$63,000 grant for his research. Another $49,000 came to Michaels
>from the German Coal Mining Association. A smaller grant of $15,000
>came from the Edison Electric Institute. Michaels also listed a
>grant of $40,000 from the western mining company Cyprus Minerals.
>Questioned by the assistant attorney general about that grant,
>Michaels responded, "You know, with all due respect, you're going to
>think I'm not telling the truth. I'm trying to remember directly
>what came out of the project. . . I'm sure we were looking at
>regional temperatures in some way."
>In fact, Cyprus Minerals was, at the time, the largest single funder
>of the virulently antienvironmentalist Wise Use movement. The
>biggest organizational member of that movement was a group called
>People for the West!, whose largest funder, with at least $100,000
>in donations, was Cyprus Minerals. According to the Clearinghouse in
>Environmental Advocacy and Research, as recently as 1995 Cyprus
>Minerals' director of governmental affairs was a member of the board
>of directors of People for the West!.

At this moment in history, I think leftists -- especially Marxists --
should focus on creative ways of linking Red & Green analyses &
activism, instead of wasting time upon futile "dialogues" with the
productivist leftists who would rather, ostrich-like, bury their
heads in the polluted sands.  Only those who live in leafy prosperous
neighborhoods with little exposure to toxic waste & no shortage of
water, food, fuel, etc. can believe industry-funded "dissident"
scientists (the word "dissident" is fitting, in that it evokes how
the word used to be used in the heyday of anticommunism).

1.  Debunking the myth of "sustainable capitalism."  Green
consumerism, pollution-credit trading, social-clause "fair trade,"
etc. are more problems than solutions.  While the world remains
imprisoned in the capitalist market, it continues to be driven by
M-C-M', and in the absence of socialism it is no wonder most nations
-- with a temporary exception of the rich social democratic ones that
have the power to out-source toxic production overseas -- can see no
alternative to cheap labor & lax environmental regulations in a
desperate attempt to export their way out of peripheral status.  The
debunking of the myth of "sustainable capitalism" should go together
with the historicizing of the "East Asian Miracle."  I don't mean to
deny the spectacular industrial & other developments of Japan, South
Korea, Taiwan, etc.; I mean that the conditions under which East
Asian nations developed their economic powers -- to say nothing of
the industrial development of Euro/American powers -- are
_historically specific_, so they cannot be replicated today.  History
does not repeat itself, not even as a farce, so the developmental
path of East Asian nations cannot serve as a "model" for today's poor
nations.  To drive this lesson home, we need to frame the debunking
of the myth of" sustainable capitalism" & the historicizing of the
"East Asian Miracle" in a theoretical attack on the Hegelian
dialectic & the liberal "History of Progress" (born in the nineteenth
century).  Both the Hegelian dialectic & the liberal "History of
Progress" -- best summarized by the Hegelian husk, as opposed to its
"raional kernel", in Marx's own words -- proclaim that "the country
that is more developed industrially only shows, to the less
developed, the image of its own future" (in the preface to the first
edition of _Capital_, Vol 1).  Not so!  Only by a racist &
Eurocentric denial of *coevalness* of all human beings at any given
time can we hold onto the idea that the so-called European is an
elder brother of the so-called non-European (for more on the denial
of coevalness, see Johannes Fabian, _Time and the Other: How
Anthropology Makes Its Object_, New York: Columbia UP, 1983; David
Spurr, _Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse In Journalism, Travel
Writing, And Imperial Administration_, Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993).

2.  It is a strategic error to tackle the question of global warming
-- or anything else for that matter -- in separation from actually
existing struggles.  It is futile & dangerous to attempt to
synthesize Red & Green analyses at a high level of abstraction, which
I believe only adds to the widely spread despair & diminished
expectations of the Left today.  Instead, we need to clarify in
theory & support in practice the struggles that arise in response to
the *condensentation of multiple contradictions*.  Take Columbia, for
instance.  Capitalism.  Imperialism.  The War on Drugs.  The use of
unsafe herbicides to kill Coca plants.  Oil corporations seeking
lands & displacing peasants.  Pollution.  Export monocultures that
leave the working masses hungry & dependent upon food imports: "The
United States is the principal foreign supplier of consumer-oriented
food products to Colombia" at
<>; "The food import
bills of the NFIDCs and of the LDCs rose by US$ 200 million to reach
US$ 7.2 billion in 1997/98 which, although lower than the high level
of US$ 8.0 billion in 1995/96 is still much higher than US$ 5.9
billion in 1994/95" at
<>); & "Bush's visions of
equal trading partners forging Pan-American prosperity, however, soon
proved disastrous for Colombian agriculture, which couldn't compete
with the deluge of cheap grains and other foodstuffs that poured in
from giant U.S. corporate producers.  Not only did crop-dusting jobs
vanish, but many of the now-bankrupt farmers whose crops they
formerly dusted ended up either in the Andes tending poppies or right
here in the Guaviare planting coca"

3.  In pursuing 1 & 2, leftists need to learn from poets in order to
improve our agit-prop. Deduction & induction do not exhaust the
rhetoric of Marxism.  Just as important is the rhetorical power of
seduction.  "Déjeme decirle, a riesgo de parecer ridículo, que el
revolucionario verdadero está guiado por grandes sentimientos de
amor," as the world's best-looking revolutionary said.

We'd have to write as powerfully as Allen Ginsberg:

*****   I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.

I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas?  Are you my Angel?

(Ginsberg, "A Supermarket in California")   *****


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