[Marxism] Limits to Growth was right?

DW dwaltersmia at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 09:51:28 MST 2015

Approaching the Limits of Growth is a capitalist concept or reaction in
response to problems of development and growth under...capitalism.
Production for human needs doesn't mean less growth, it might mean more
growth, but done more wisely for human needs and the ecology and not for

How would this play out? I judge development projects based on each unique
set of issues that confront it, realizing that economic expansion
*everywhere* is done within the context of a world Imperialist system. The
Limits of Growth is *purely* Malthusian and can only offer destruction,
poverty and "de-development" as the solution. So we need something better.

I will site two examples.

The Keystone Pipeline is something that at the end of the day, is worse
than what it could benefit us. Beside the fact that none of the oil will be
used domestically but to fill the Imperialist world market for gasoline and
other refined petroleum profits and thus the motivation only fills the
speculative need of the profiteers, we should question its value. *We do
NOT need this oil* (by "we" I mean our species) For me, that means that
extracting it and processing it means the use of huge amounts of oil and
natural gas to process the tar sands from which it comes, creating a huge
GHG problem, way more than conventional oil sources and so, on this basis
alone, it is not worth the effort. I don't buy the problem with the 'leaks'
which do occur but are containable. There are thousands of miles of oil
pipelines there over the Ogallala Aquifer already and damage to it has not
really been that big an issue. Is it an issue ? Well yes, of course, but
something that could be resolved quickly, IMHO, because they are quote
localized and generally very contained. Oil pipelines have been there for 5
decades already and no one said squat about them until now. But other oil
projects maybe supportable. Why...because the world still need oil and
fossil fuels, the mode of production notwithstanding, until such a time as
we can change the way we use transportation energy to get around. All told
the Keystone seems like a looser proposition with zero upside.

Secondly, a tale of two canals. The Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal is
very controversial. There is much opposition locally in Nicaragua and,
equally, much support for it. On the basis of the huge injection into the
economy there and the jobs it will create it is hard to argue against.
However, the ecological damage may well be the worse thing to hit Central
American in decades and could be irreversible. Not to mention massive
displacement of local folks who live, or lived until expelled, in this new
canal zone. But the real reason is that it is an incredible waste of
resources and investment: the Canal project ONLY serves the interest of
trans-oceanic corporations who want to slim pennies off their cargo costs
by using *totally unnecessary larger super freighters*! It lowers some fuel
costs, lots of labor costs for on board crews and is faster to move cargo
on and off one big ship than two smaller ones at dockside. The project
*only* serves the shipping companies and adds nothing to a general
expansion of the productive forces that could actually benefit people.

Lastly something I might support that makes sense: the Kra Canal in
Thailand to cut across the Thai Isthmus. Currently the worlds shipping has
to be funneled through the Straights of Malacca in Malaysia and Indonesia
to pass through the Singapore Straights. Singapore, the British and the US
love this because it's "controllable" from a strategic point of view. The
problem is that piracy is almost impossible to stop in the Straights; it
gives Singapore (read: British) monopoly rights over intermodel transfer of
containers; and it costs shippers, the products they ship, and huge fuel
expenditures (and thus resulting CHC emissions from diesel fuel) major

The British have gone so far as to force the Thai gov't to agree to "never"
build a canal there. They don't want to lose their control over shipping.
There have been for decades various proposals to build this canal and it's
supported by every ocean going nation of both sides of Thailand. I haven't
looked at it in enough detail yet to know of the environmental and
dislocation costs to the people of the area but it seems like a worthwhile
endeavor at least to consider on balance.

David Walters

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