[Marxism] Troubled times

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 20 09:20:47 MST 2006

>"Classical" class-centered Marxism has proven to be
>insufficient, caught by surprise at every turn by nation and gender. (And, I
>will add, by the environmental question, though how to fit that in with the
>social is something that hasn't really clicked yet the way they other things

This is not so. Betty Friedan, who had been in the CP, launched the 
modern-day feminist movement. Harry Hay, who founded the Mattachine 
Society, was a CP'er. Even if the CP had a fucked up position on such 
questions as an organization, it took cadre from their ranks to put things 
into motion. That is an historical fact. Their Marxist training *helped* 
them identify areas of oppression that it took a radical movement to fight.

On the environment:

Polluted rivers, deforestation, noxious smokestack emissions and Chernobyl. 
That is what comes to mind when we think of the former Soviet Union. Like 
much of the history of the former Soviet Union, there is another side to 
the story. Just as there were political alternatives to Stalin, there were 
alternative possibilities to the way that the planned economy dealt with 
nature. Douglas R. Weiner's "Models of Nature: Ecology, Conservation, and 
Cultural Revolution in Soviet Union" (Indiana Univ., 1988) is, as far as I 
know, the most detailed account of the efforts of the Russian government to 
implement a "green" policy.

This story starts, as you would expect, with the Bolshevik revolution. 
While Lenin has the reputation of being a crude "productivist," the actual 
record was quite the opposite. Although Lenin wanted to increase Soviet 
Russia's productive power, he thought that nature had to be respected.

The Communist Party issued a decree "On Land" in 1918. It declared all 
forests, waters, and minerals to be the property of the state, a 
prerequisite to rational use. When the journal "Forests of the Republic" 
complained that trees were being chopped down wantonly, the Soviet 
government issued a stern decree "On Forests" at a meeting chaired by Lenin 
in May of 1918. From then on, forests would be divided into an exploitable 
sector and a protected one. The purpose of the protected zones would 
specifically be to control erosion, protect water basins and the 
"preservation of monuments of nature." This last stipulation is very 
interesting when you compare it to the damage that is about to take place 
in China as a result of the Yangtze dam. The beautiful landscapes which 
inspired Chinese artists and poets for millennia is about to disappear, all 
in the name of heightened "productiveness."

What's surprising is that the Soviet government was just as protective of 
game animals as the forests, this despite the revenue-earning possibilities 
of fur. The decree "On Hunting Seasons and the Right to Possess Hunting 
Weapons" was approved by Lenin in May 1919. It banned the hunting of moose 
and wild goats and brought the open seasons in spring and summer to an end. 
These were some of the main demands of the conservationists prior to the 
revolution and the Communists satisfied them completely. The rules over 
hunting were considered so important to Lenin that he took time out from 
deliberations over how to stop the White Armies in order to meet with the 
agronomist Podiapolski.

full: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/ecology/ussr_ecology.htm



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