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

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 19 17:01:12 MDT 2008

Revolutionary activity in the 21st Century includes developing a more
rational, more sustainable way of living, as well as a less wasteful
way of consuming. Cuba's vanguard role in this area, its revolution in 
the utilization and distribution of energy, is one which socialists
everywhere should study carefully. Educating the peoples of the world
about the cost of living, about the need for self-control and self-
discipline are essential. Cubans, for example, have long taken their
highly-subsidized way of life for granted. Most of them haven't had
to pay much attention to utility bills until a year or so ago when
the steady increase in the world price of gasoline imposed itself on
the island's consciousness. Venezuelans purchase gasoline at a price
lower than that of bottled water.

One of today's more trenchant Marxist observers framed these issues
rather astutely in an essay he published earlier today:

  "What Marx published constitutes the most serious analysis ever to be
  written about class society and the exploitation of man by man.
  Marxism had thus been born, as the foundation of revolutionary
  parties and movements that proclaimed socialism as their objective,
  including nearly all social-democratic parties that, when World War I
  broke out, betrayed the slogan proclaimed by Marx and Engels in The
  Communist Manifesto, first published in 1848: "Workers of the world,

  "One of the truths that this great thinker expressed in simple terms
  was that: “In the social production during their lives, men establish
  certain necessary relations independent of their wills, relations of
  production which correspond to a given phase of development of their
  material productive forces. It is not man’s consciousness which
  determines its being, but on the contrary, it is its social being
  which determines its consciousness. On reaching a given phase of
  development, society's material productive forces come into
  contradiction with existing production relations...From forms of
  development of the productive forces, these relations become
  obstacles to the latter and an era of social revolution thus
  begins...No social formation disappears before its productive forces
  are fully developed and no new and more advanced production relations
  emerge before the material conditions for their existence have
  matured within the old society".
  "To describe the concrete development of the class struggle, Marx
  wrote The Class Struggle in France from 1848 to 1850 and the 18th
  Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, two excellent historical analyses that
  delight any reader. He was a true genius.

  "Lenin, a profound continuator of dialectical thought and Marx’s
  research, wrote two key works: The State and Revolution and
  Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Marx’s ideas, put into
  practice by Lenin through the October Revolution, were also developed
  by Mao Zedong and other Third World revolutionary leaders. Without
  them, the Cuban Revolution would not have taken place in the United
  States’ backyard.

  "Had Marxist thought simply limited itself to the idea that "no social
  formation disappears before its productive forces are fully
  developed", the capitalist theoretician Francis Fukuyama would have
  been right in proclaiming that the collapse of the Soviet Union
  marked the end of history and ideologies and that all resistance to
  the capitalist system of production should cease.

  "When the founder of scientific socialism published his ideas,
  society’s productive forces were far from fully developed. Technology
  had not yet yielded deadly weapons of mass destruction capable of
  exterminating the human species; the aerospatial domain did not yet
  exist, nor did the unlimited squandering of hydrocarbons and
  non-renewable fossil fuels; climate change had not yet been detected
  in a natural world whose potential seemed infinite to humanity, nor
  had the world food crisis, to be borne by innumerable combustion
  engines and a population six times larger than that which inhabited
  the planet on the year Marx was born (then of one billion), made
  itself known yet."


Arguing about the fine points of Marxist theory has its value and I'd
be the last to sneer at it, but practical matters such as putting
bread on the table for actual human beings in a world which remains
dominated by capitalist anarchy, also has its place in revolutionary
activity. That's why they call it the "energy revolution", after all.

Walter Lippmann
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Energy in the 21th Century

By Yailin Orta Rivera
E-mail: digital at jrebelde.cip.cu
June 17, 2008 00:09:10 GMT

The more than 800 Cuban young people who participated of a Cuban program
aimed at improving the capacity to save energy in countries of Latin America
and the Caribbean, replaced 7 million incandescent light bulbs with
fluorescent bulbs between 2006 and 2008.

Their efforts were praised by Enrique Gómez Cabeza, head of the Social
Worker's Program at a ceremony held to celebrate the accomplishment of the
assignments linked to the Energy Revolution program.

Yunier Cárdenas, one of the young social workers who operated in Guyana,
said that their mission was not only spreading Cuba's energy and oil saving
initiatives, but also taking a message of support and respect to these
sister nations.

In addition to Guyana, this group of young people, along with 38 leaders of
the Young Communist League (UJC), 13 electrical engineers and ten teachers,
worked in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Granada, Haiti, Jamaica,
Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Santa
Lucia and Surinam.

Without respite

"We would work until sunset because we had to make the most of our time.
Sometimes we even changed 300 light bulbs in a single day," said Alexis
Acosta, one of the young workers sent to Antigua and Barbuda. He also
commented on the difficulties in communicating, at first, due to the
difference of languages, but they ended up understanding each other.

Teacher Marcelina Moreno, one of the officials who headed the group that
worked in Antigua and Barbuda, told how she had worked first in Venezuela
during the first phase of the project that consisted of a comprehensive
diagnosis of the potential to save energy in that country. Once back in
Cuba, she was told about this new mission in Antigua and Barbuda.

Moreno recalled that she worked together with an electrical engineer and a
UJC leader in the design of the plan to carry out the replacements. "The
work was very dynamic," she said, "especially in the afternoons because in
the mornings people used to be at work."

"We trained these young men and women not only to replace light bulbs, but
also to face any problem that might arise, and we would analyze the work on
a daily basis," said Moreno, who is also the principal of the Social
Worker's Institute in Matanzas.

Gustavo Caso Valencia was one of the electrical engineers who took the
challenge of taking Cuba's Energy Revolution program to Granada. There, he
coordinated all the work, taking care of the technical issues that would
allow the quantifying of the impact that the replacements would bring about.

"We walked up and down every region of the country," recalls Caso.
"Sometimes the ground was rugged and that made it difficult for us to move
about, but we were finally able to succeed, and we made our small
contribution to reducing electricity consumption in Granada. And our work
seems to be growing in importance nowadays as the price of oil increases.

On his part, teacher Germán Rojas highlighted the importance of the
experience, arguing that it was not only a way to take a closer look at
other cultures, but also to realize the valuable things we have, in
comparison with the reality of other nations. That makes us feel a great
satisfaction when returning to the Revolution all it has given to us."

Teacher Jesús Martín, who worked in Dominica, told how they finished in one
month a work that was planned to be completed in two months. "There we
received the help of the locals who studied in Cuba and the authorities of
the country," he said, adding that they were willing to take on a new
mission in the future if they were offered.
It is quite typical of imperialist socialists to discuss these issues
in terms like "important parts of the working class" without bothering
to tell us just who that might be. It is "Western" imperialist life
styles --including working class life styles-- that are unsustainable,
not humanity in general.

We don't need population control, we need consumption control.

     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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