Energy and Strategy

Kay McVey katsummerland at
Fri Dec 6 08:41:15 MST 2002

Ed wrote:
Kay asks Mark, 'What is your vision of the socialist
future? At the moment it seems distinctly distopian.
In fact let's make it easier: why are you a

But this completely misses the point. We are not going
to win socialism on the basis of a superior
happy-clappy vision of a future socialist utopia.

Kay replies
Au contraire you miss the point.  It’s not so much a
happy-clappy socialist future at the base of this but
any future. Marks’ posts have continually stressed
that human activity its swiftly taking the planet to a
point of no return if it hasn’t already reached that.

It was in this context that this thread started.

I think it is time for a recap given the multiple
directions the original post - Arctic Ice Melting Much
Faster Than Thought.... msg39472  – has gone off to.
As we are now in the Gulf Stream perhaps we can come
back to the beginning.

Richard Fidler wrote:
Assuming you still think socialism remains a viable
option, Mark, do you have any thoughts on how energy
production and consumption might be organized in a
socialist society? (my emphasis)

Mark wrote:

If we don't learn to respect the functioning and in
some sense, inviolability, of evolution as a total
process, then we are likely to be phased out
ourselves. Therefore any concept of socialism which
does not have an Ecological Imperative at its heart is
not going to work. This means, in the most extreme
case (speaking purely hypothetically), that there may
be times when people, even whole populations, might
have to be sacrificed to save some other species from
extinction. The issue becomes, how will we
collectively make such decisions, bearing in mind that
under socialism the collective will include presumably
some of the people whose lives might need to be
sacrificed. I'm putting the most extreme dilemma I can
think of forward, as an example of the issues which
any realistic socialism will have to find
institutional, morally-codified ways of dealing with.
Actually, examples of self-sacrifice being
institutionally acceptable and even normatively
encouraged, are common in all historical societies.

Mass self-sacrifice happened in socialist states and
has also frequently happened in bourgeois and earlier
historical formations. But as far as I know it has
never been a part of traditional socialist thinking
that in certain circumstances great and even the
ultimate sacrifices might have to be paid in order to
preserve ecosystems.


Unless we find a way to address this issue, to think
thru this dilemma, then we cannot call ourselves
practical socialist, we are mere day-dreamers peddling
quack nostrums about photovoltaics or other
delusionary 'alternatives' or we are in complete
denial and are avoiding the central issue that
confronts our times and our beliefs. This is the issue
of how to effect the transition away from the
petroleate society. It is a central issue because if
we fail to do this then we abandon any form of
meaningful politics and future history will be written
between people Islamic fundamentalists and their
mirror-inverses, the political fundamentalists now in
power in Washington. They at least understand what the
fight is really all about: who controls world energy.

My second thought is that we should avoid utopian
schemes and concentrate on building parties and viable
political coalitions in the here and now.

Kay writes:

The discussion isn’t about how to overthrow capitalism
and achieve socialism.  It was to identify how a
socialist society would organise its energy needs.

That to me seems a pretty reasonable question.
Instead, we got “an extreme example” that we may have
to mark whole groups of people for exterminations.
The socialist state was invoked when what has been
asked for is thoughts about post-class society.

Having an idea about how things would/could be done
differently is a key for planning and building any
opposition to what exists now.

The reason I reduced the question to  - Why are you a
socialist? - is my belief that most people cherish
thoughts about what would be possible.  As Mark is
passionate about issues to do with energy crisis,
environmental degradation and ecological destruction,
I assume he has dreamed of what might be feasiable and
how he could do things differently when his hands are
on the levers of the means of production

That said I am intrigued by your contribution.

Ed writes:

(snip) Generalised capitalist crisis is a necessary
precondition for the outbreak of revolutionary crisis:
this cannot be willed into being by subjective
revolutionary optimism - capitalism will not wilt
before the orator. But when, under the whip of crisis,
revolutionary crises do break out they tend to appear
first at the weakest social, political or economic
point of capitalist rule: in the revolutionary wave at
the end of the First World War, from Russia, spreading
west; in the mid 1930s, from backward Spain to
metropolitan France; in May 1968, from the
revolutionary students to the industrial working
class; in 1974-5, impelled by the collapse of the
remains of the Portuguese empire, from the junior
officers of the MFA to the Portuguese peasants and
workers. Periphery and centre are not closed
geographical (or national) areas but dialectically
related sectors of the international socialist
revolution. And there is nothing in human history that
says that this pattern will not repeat itself as long
as bourgeois rule is maintained.

Kay writes:
But why is your example so eurocentric?  What about
the revolutionary wave post WWII?  Perhaps we see
things differently from here in the antipodes.  To
look to your centre we have to gaze through East
Timor, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, Korea.  You see
that revolutionary wave was truly international
sweeping to your east as well and most recently
washing up in a former - Portuguese colony whose
people started to press their claim for liberation
from 1974.  And surely it swept further west than the
Iberian peninsular and actually reached the Americas.


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