[Marxism] [Pen-l] NYRB review of Naomi Klein

Joseph Green jgreen at communistvoice.org
Tue Nov 25 01:12:17 MST 2014

Marv Gandall wrote:

> Sorry, I donTMt think it can be completely ruled out, except by dogmatists,
> that oeif solar and other alternative energy prices continue to fall in
> line with advanced technology and more widespread adoption, and become
> more cost-effective and safer than environmentally destructive forms of
> energy, thereTMs no reason to suppose todayTMs capitalists would not do what
> previous generations of capitalists have done and move to superior forms
> of energy. Which, as I noted, is not to say such a development is
> inevitable or even likely.

Some capitalists already produce corn ethanol or palm oil as biofuels. Far 
from denying this, I have pointed it out repeatedly in this discussion and in 
articles. And this is an example of capitalists moving to a fuel which is not 
directly a fossil fuel. Yet it ended up having a destructive effect. 

I have also discussed Kyoto and why it failed, and Kyoto is an example of 
bourgeois enviornmentalism.

Capitalist firms may be required to produce in environmentally-safe ways. 
This will involve a constant conflict between the logic of market forces and 
the regulations imposed on them. If things are left to market forces, then 
progress will be too slow to prevent disaster, and will be constantly 
interrupted by fiascos such as the repeated fiascos with biofuels.

Capitalist economies have changed from one form of energy to another. But the 
changes in the past have never brought in the type overall environmental 
planning that is now needed to avoid environmental catastrophe. And to 
describe the change from one form of energy to another as a change to a 
"superior" form, begs the question of what type of "superiority" one is 
referring to. 

> My comment had nothing to do with the demands being raised by the
> mainstream environmental organizations,

We were discussing whether the presence of former Mayor Bloombeg in climate 
marches was a matter of concern. In this regard, you said 

> that not all capitalists outside
> the coal, gas and oil industries are wedded to fossil fuels and
> unconcerned about their disruptive and potentially catastrophic effects.
> Bloomberg is a prominent spokesperson of this growing wing of the
> bourgeoisie. 

So the issue is what we can expect from Bloomberg and "this growing wing of 
the bourgeoisie" that is concerned about the "potentially catastrophic 
effects" of fossil fuels. What I have advocated is that various bourgeois 
environmentalists, such as Al Gore, have done a service in raising the 
dangers ahead, but have advocated measures that lead to ruin. This is true 
even of the UN's IPCC. It is necessary therefore that the militant wing of 
the environmental movement take up opposition to the bourgeois program, such 
as market methods, and promote a better environmental program.

You raise that it's possible that the capitalists may implement a superior 
form of energy. But if this possibility is to become a reality, they need to  
forced to do this via regulations, regulations based on overall environmental 
planning. And only the working masses have the class interest to provide this 
pressure against them.

> although I did earlier pose the
> question on this thread, which remains as yet unanswered:
> "Concretely, is there much difference in the demands favoured by the
> established environmental organizations and the left-wing of the
> environmental moon vement?

This is an important question. It seems to me that the militant wing of the 
environmental movement has undertaken many important actions. And we see, as 
pointed out in Klein's book, that if it weren't for the militant wing of the 
movement, the establishment environmentalists would give up on outright 
opposition to anti-fracking, as shown in Klein's book. Part of the militant 
section has denounced some of the market measures. And so on.

But the problem is that the militant wing has not separated decisively from 
bourgeois environmentalism. This is seen in that even that section of the 
movement which says it opposes market measures, doesn't realize that the 
carbon tax is a market measure. It is also seen in the reluctance to put 
forward the need for overall planning.

The environmentalist and naturalist Timothy Flannery, in his book "The 
Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on 
Earth", realized that comprehensive environmental planning would lead to a 
great deal of overall economic planning. He remarked that this planning would 
lead from one field of the economy to another.  He was scared of this, and 
called it a "carbon dictatorship".  But this meant that he was unwilling to 
see that market fundamentalism had to be challenged.

One of the key issues is whether it is possible to achieve the needed reforms 
in cooperation with Bloomberg and the corporations, or whether one needs to 
oppose the corporations and market fundamentalism. It concerns whether one 
demands, not just regulations and planning, but the end to the privatization 
of the government. Without a change in the way government agencies are now 
run, regulation and planning would be jokes. It concerns whether there is a 
demand that planning take into account mass livelihood as a goal alongside 
environmental goals, or imagines that green jobs in itself will solve the 
social issues. It concerns whether planning is done financially, or material 
planning is involved. And so on. 

-- Joseph Green

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