[Marxism] From socialism to eco-socialism. (Was: Investment, investment, investment)

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Feb 21 09:46:45 MST 2016

Hi comrades,


I've been hanging out more in Johannesburg (I'm moving full-time to a 
university there in May, from my Durban base the last dozen years where 
I developed more of the eco-socialist angles especially on climate). And 
in Joburg I find this is the direction taken by the city's leading 
socialist trade unionists (e.g. in the metalworkers - people like Dinga 
Sikwebu), NGO activists (e.g. Womin in Mining which combines 
eco-feminism, anti-extractivism and socialism), and intellectuals (e.g. 
in the Democratic Marxism series of Wits University Press, edited by 
people like Vishwas Satgar, Jackie Cock and Michelle Williams). Your 
argument will fall on fertile soil here.

A couple of nuances, though:

On 2016/02/21 06:15 PM, Hans G Ehrbar via Marxism wrote:
> ...
> The biggest shift which socialists have to make, in my view, is to
> explain to the masses in the rich countries that they must learn to live
> well with less, and that it is possible to meet all their needs with
> much less stuff.

This is important to adjust, in my view, so that the "with less" applies 
not mainly to the "masses" but to the over-consumptive classes (as well 
as those in the South, such as myself). Would you not make the 
distinction between whatever level (top 20%, 30%?) should pare down 
consumption (especially carbon footprint-related) and the majority who 
if they lost a month's pay might be deep in the red?

There's a video whose network I was involved in for awhile, which has 
been seen by 50 million people (I helped on the version fighting carbon 
trading and even that obscure topic attracted more than a million views, 
with its attack on banksters doing climate policy): 
http://www.storyofstuff.org ... and I haven't seen anything more 
powerful than Annie's analysis of the entire system of capitalist 
circuitry from production to reproduction, across extraction through to 

Have a look and see if this is the sort of eco-socialist messaging you 
have in mind. At the time, I had hoped that movements like Occupy - and 
now the Sanders campaign - would start to make anti-capitalist and even 
explicitly socialist narratives more palatable in these sorts of 
projects. Maybe in future that can be done with increasingly clever 
media innovations. Is there anything you have in mind, Hans, that's a 
model for reaching out to the masses in your neighbourhood?

> The second biggest shift is that even the most revolutionary socialists
> must embrace reforms.  We in the US, Europe, Canada, Australia do not
> have the power to overturn the capitalist regime quickly enough to
> implement the necessary changes in time.  We must try to build the
> necessary structures within capitalism.  On Feb 17, Raghu said on Pen-l
> that, since nationalization of the polluting energy sector is not
> achievable, we have to aim for the second best, namely, their regulation.
> This should not be dismissed but discussed seriously among socialists.

Yes, that's why I appreciate so much the debate Joseph Green introduced 
me to, about the carbon tax proposals of Jim Hansen and others /only 
working at the margins - /i.e. achieving incremental changes by 
adjusting consumption, depending upon price elasticity - when we need 
full-fledged regulation. The standard historical comparison is to FDR's 
takeover of the auto industry for war production purposes. The EPA is 
probably sufficiently empowered to "regulate" the polluting coal-fired 
powerplants and coal mines /by shutting them down. /That's the kind of 
firm, radical reform that anyone doing climate activism would agree is 
now necessary.

Andre Gorz distinguished between reformist and non-reformist reforms. In 
South African social policy debates, these distinctions are often vital.


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