One more time....

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Jan 13 15:49:46 MST 2003

David wrote:
>If you went to a capitalist or the class of capitalists and said, "Hey, cut
>this out.  If you keep it up you're going to put yourself out of business in
>20, 30, 40, years,"  the capitalist would look at you and say, besides "Get
>out of my office,"  ---"I'll worry about that in 19 or 29 or 39 years.
>Right now I'm earning less than 5% on new investment, I'm borrowing money at
>6%, I've got too much damn equipment being serviced by too many people, and
>I've got to figure out some way to get my prices up before next month ."
>Now that's a crude example, by I hope it illustrates what and why I think
>capital is always guided by what's directly in front of it, which is to say
>the falling rate of profit.

You are missing the point entirely. The ecosocialist message is being
delivered to working people and their allies, not the bourgeoisie. We are
trying to alert people to the matrix of looming environmental disasters
that have come to the attention of outfits and which are being publicized
by outfits like Worldwatch Institute, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, etc. Our
difference with them is not so much over the seriousness of the crisis, but
what to do about it. Without trying to sound too much like a sectarian
ultimatist, we believe that only socialism alone can begin to point to a
way out of this crisis. That being said, we have to deal with *ecological
limits* that were not fully understood by earlier generations of Marxists.
For example, in Trotsky's "If the USA Should Go Communist", there is a
bizarre hymn to hydroelectric dams, etc. If that wasn't bad enough, he even
talks up eugenics.

>Certainly the environment requires protection.  I think the specific
>Marxist analysis of surplus value, which leads to the analysis of
>overproduction, which leads to the critical impact of the falling rate
>of profit, offers the only way forward to an economy that does not
>require pillaging the planet, the technology, or the human labor
>necessary for meeting and developing our needs.

This is true, but there are other dimensions as well. Society will have to
be reorganized totally and the countryside-town rift will have to be overcome.

>In regard to LP's comments:  I tried to show that oil and oil
>production followed the classic trajectory of overproduction.  Cost,
>price, investment, and rate of return are the critical elements to that
>analysis. I believe I did provide factual support for the discussions of
>cost, price, investment, rate of return.  I believe I provided
>historical background to previous oil crises.  And I tried to show the
>pitfalls and dangers in the scarcity of resource argument, most
>importantly that class drops out of the analysis and moreover the
>argument can easily be used to cover austerity plans with a mantle of
>inevitability.  Maybe I didn't do it as well as I could, but it wasn't
>for a lack of effort or knowledge.

I appreciate this conciliatory note.

>Some other things. I really have to take exception with the notion that
>WWII was fought over oil.  Have we forgotten the tremendous
>overproduction leading up to the depression?  Have we forgotten the
>depression itself. I'm sure nobody would argue that the depression was
>caused by the lack of oil.

Capitalism is the ultimate cause of all wars, economic crises, etc. That
being said, oil has an overarching role in the modern world economy that
gold and silver had during the mercantile era and that coal and cotton had
in its midpassage. Oil is the sine qua non of late capitalist production.

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list:

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