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

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Fri Jun 20 13:42:26 MDT 2008

I think Joaquin is right, there is a need for "consumption control" on the
part of the denizens of the countries that, like the U.S. represent 5% of
the world's population, but consume 25% of its wealth. I just want to
raise two quick points in this regard (I have one day to finish the
molecular chapter of my dissertation...). First, not only is consumerism
bad for the planet (and yes, there are definite problems of carrying
capacity, but see next point), but it is the means por excelencia by which
the ruling class in the U.S. exercises its hegemony. Therefore,
controlling consumption cannot be imposed from without (i.e., by
capitalist, austerity-program governments), but must be part of a process
by which workers in the imperialist countries challenge that hegemony and
challenge the artificial and wasteful excesses they indulge in. And --
related to this -- second, again trying to see this as process, it is
inconceivable that real shaping of norms of consumption, i.e., the
population consciously exercising "self-control" in the presence of a
market economy and the absence of social planning. Otherwise, as I implied
above, what you get are restrictions on consumption for some people, but
not for the rulers.

> Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2008 23:51:04 +0000
> From: dave.walters at comcast.net
> Subject: Re: [Marxism] Class Struggle, Fossil Fuels,	and Environmental
> 	Catastrophe
> To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
> Message-ID:
> "It is quite typical of imperialist socialists to discuss these issues
> in terms like..."
> "We don't need population control, we need consumption control."
> Seems Joaquin should heed his own suggestion here. The only place AT ALL
> that people talk about "controlling consumption" are Greens and others
> from
> *imperialist* countries.
> Joaquin, himself a socialist from an imperialist country, then, ougt to
> know better.
> When NGOs, activists, etc talk about cutting back, it means extended
> misery and
> poverty in develooping countries. It is also foolish to talk about
> "consumption"
> without talking about what *kind* of consumption; without talking about
> *production*
> and other things. Joaquin has argued in the past that basically "all"
> consumption should
> go down. I responsed it is wholly non-Marxist to talk aboutt this without
> understanding
> that we could *easily* expand consumption and save the enviroment at the
> same time
> if people think outside the box.
> Raw materials such as steel, copper and aluminium are amost totally
> recycled thus
> providing much less actual mining and enviornmental destruction that it
> took, say, 60
> years ago to fabricate commidties from. Regardless, we need to get 2
> billion people (forget
> 100 million dead people making  a difference) electricity. When that
> happens, refrigerators
> and televiions *always follow*. Running water and santitary
> infrastructures follow as well.
> This is a must to bring health standards up to the barest minimum.
> "Consuming less" is
> going in the opposite direction
> If we focus just on fossil fuels of course the world will actually consume
> MORE for the next 20 years
> depending on price, of course, but generally more because development in
> places like Asia isn't
> slowing down, even with a collapsing US finanial system. We need
> "alternatives" to fossil fuel
> to husband what supplies we can save. If battery storage, to sight
> probably the most important
> example, can really go past 150 KM between charges, then "consumption"
> becomes less
> relelvant as we can produde rediculous amounts of energy if society wants
> to invest to do so.
> i think dominaion of imperialism and class society is what holds us up
> most from this, as I'm
> sure most us do here. But unlike some, I am far more optimistic about how
> humanity can
> *increase* consumption world-wide and save this planet.
> David

More information about the Marxism mailing list