[Marxism] Re: Queries: environment & related

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Dec 20 20:42:00 MST 2004

Tom O'Lincoln:
>This has a common-sense appeal, along with "there are a billion Chinese and
>they all want to own a car". But there is a traditional answer: change our
>diet/ use public transport and the numbers of people won't matter. And
>there is a danger in seeing people as the problem - in Australia it has led
>Greens to demand immigration cuts. Can't we fix things by making people
>part of the *solution*, and in that case the more of them the better?

I have no idea what it means to make people part of the solution. There are 
no "socialist" techniques for eliminating greenhouse emissions. To enjoy 
the good life, you need to consume energy. This means coal, oil and gas. 
When you burn this stuff, it throws off co2. There's nothing you can read 
in Karl Marx that will stop the production of co2. You instead have to 
figure out a way to arrive at a sustainable level of greenhouse emissions. 
With capitalism's need to expand and to make profits, you really can't 
approach this problem rationally.

>Just being Devil's Advocate for the moment. Obviously the right answer is
>some kind of dialectical synthesis, and I'm hoping some Marxist out there
>has worked through it in detail.

Unfortunately, except for people like John Bellamy Foster, Paul Burkett, 
Mark Jones and Walt Contreras Sheasby--two late and lamented comrades who 
were on Marxmail--and Howie Hawkins who lurks here, there has not been much 
of a synthesis going on.

Many self-described ecosocialists like Joel Kovel are strongly influenced 
by the Frankfurt school and its particular Heideggerian perspective on 
"industrialism". They have not really thought through what Marx was driving 
at through his examination of the problem of soil fertility.

Marx's approach lends itself to the study of other problems like global 
warming, genetic engineering, waste disposal, etc. In fact, a general 
synthesis of all these problems within the context of historical 
materialism is urgently needed.

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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