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

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Sun Dec 10 18:27:58 MST 2000

Louis Proyect wrote:

> >Just wondering. [clip] the context of the discussion.
> >
> >Mine
> I went to high school with an Eli Moskowitz, but I doubt if this is the
> same person intervening on LBO-Talk.

The context is rather more general and the particular post
from which Yoshie departs is irrelevant to that context. John
Bellamy Foster, in the recent seminar on *Marx's Ecology*
provided the serious context here in his response to a question
I raised on the last day of the seminar. It concerns the *means*
through which Marxists intervene in the question of the
environment and the political relationships they can or can't
form with "Green" Forces. Yoshie's post can be considered
a further comment on the issues John raised in the final
paragraph of his "Final Responses":

John Bellamy Foster wrote:

Carrol asks, based on a talk that I gave at the Rethinking Marxism
conference in Amherst last Fall, if I was suggesting that an alliance
with the Greens should be avoided.  This relates to the issue of
What is Not to Be Done.  I think political alliances need to be very
broad, so I would of course not be against a Red-Geeen alliance.
But theoretically and strategically in guiding praxis we have to aim
at absolute clarity.  I am very doubtful of the Red-Green synthesis
that some have proclaimed in the name of ecological Marxism-
and even more so Marxism's political and theoretical subordination
to political ecology as suggested by Alain Lipietz.  The truth is that
while ecology is vital for social transformation, Green theory is weak,
in my view, even from an ecological standpoint (not to mention social
theory as such).  It is primarily an ethical, spiritualistic viewpoint,
that revolves around such dualisms as ecocentric versus
anthropocentric and has a poverty of content even with respect to
ecological elements -- especially where the social and the ecological
interact.  Evolution is often ignored in Green theory, and so are the
kinds of relations that Marx dealt with in his concept of metabolic
rift.  Materialism (theoretical materialism) is often seen as the enemy.
Science is all too often viewed as the enemy.  My view is that we can
do better than that.  We should not try to graft Green theory as it
onto Marxism, nor should we subordinate Marxism to Green theory.
Even the notion that Marxism can be added to Green theory in order to
historicize it is questionable.  My view, like it or not, is that we
to reconstruct Marxism itself, based on its revolutionary potential,
which meant that it contained radical elements that have been
downplayed or ignored.  We should primarily dig here (in Marxism
and materialism) not there (in Green theory) if we want to produce
a powerful social ecology that can serve as a guide to praxis and
that has a meaningful relationship to science. As for what is to be
done, there is really only one thing we have to do: challenge the
social relations of capitalism.  The problem isn't so much about
what needs to be done to solve our social and ecological problems,
but what needs to be done in order to overcome the barriers
imposed by capital.  Mario seems to be thinking along similar
lines with his comments on how to overcome the bourgeois
specter within the movement.

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