[Marxism] Class Struggle, Fossil Fuels, and Environmental Catastrophe

ehrbar ehrbar at lists.econ.utah.edu
Thu Jun 19 10:33:26 MDT 2008

I had asked:

>> Are you saying that the earth has unlimited carrying capacity for humans?

and David responded:

> Unlimited is too much to say, though note that the question itself is not so 
> well posed (since humans could probably live outside Earth too). What is not 
> in doubt is that the Earth has a varying carrying capacity for humans 
> depending on many factors, most relevant being the industrial, technical and 
> agricultural base, and the mode of production and consequent law of value at 
> work.

Even if we solve the energy/warming problem with leaving fossil fuels in
the ground and going all solar, we still have the water problem,
overfishing, salinization of irrigated land, diseases with the entire
planet turning into a big petri dish for any human disease carrier,
It is not an accident that we are faced not just with one disaster
but the confluence of multiple disasters.  The effects of one excess
could be hidden by making other excesses bigger, but we are approaching
the point where it all comes tumbling down.  We can no longer rely
that future crisis will be creative destruction with a cleaning effect;
the danger of an irredeemable collapse is growing rapidly.

and when I said

>> We do not have time for such fundamental changes such as socialism
>> to take effect.  This would destroy the mass basis which alone can
>> be powerful enough to make a difference in the time frame which we have
>> (which is less than one decade).


> If you think in less than one decade you can convinced the world of a 
> one-child policy easier than you can convince them to adopt a socialist 
> project, I think you're miscalibrating the relative difficulties involved. 
> Whereas a good half of the world or so wouldn't be radically opposed to 
> socialism, at least if we judge from the ideological conditions in places 
> like the PRC, LatAm, etc, a one-child policy would be everywhere opposed, 
> with the potential exception of ... Europe ... and Japan

Population is definitely the toughest nut to crack.  But the education
of women alone has made a huge difference.  We must put social
structures in place that the poor can survive without the labor of
their children.  Coming economic hardship will then help us along.
There is no doubt population in the poor countries will rise for a
while.  But they don't consume much per capita.  The USA is still
growing much too rapidly, this must be our focus right now.

Regarding socialism, lots of people say it is a nice idea but does not
work in practice.  For it to work in practice, changes in everyday
behavior and customs and value systems are necessary which take

> Basically a coercive and violent reactionary plan of action to dispossess 
> the people from the gains made during the industrial revolution.

Marx could probably not have seen this, but it is my hypothesis that
the gains made during the industrial revolution and since were not
gains against the capitalist class.  The capitalists won against the
workers, but as a consolation price the workers were allowed to
participate in the one-time bonanza of fossil fuels.  This is why they
seemed to make material gains but were ideologically disarmed, hence
their political weakness.

> --David.

My essay is only a draft, an effort to understand things from a
slightly different angle.  I am willing to learn, please keep your
comments coming.


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