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environment

What will it take to go beyond 'extractivism'? Federico Fuentes replies to Don Fitz

A miner in Bolivia.

For more on the "extractivism" discussion, click HERE.

By Federico Fuentes

October 31, 2014 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal, a version of this article appeared first at TeleSUR English -- In recent years, a number of important discussions have emerged among and between environmentalists and solidarity activists. None has generated quite as much heat as the debate over extractive industries, particularly in South America.

This is perhaps unsurprising given what’s at stake: South America is home to some of the world’s largest and most important natural resource deposits. It is also a region dominated by progressive governments that have taken strong stances internationally in support of action on climate change, while facing criticism at home for their positions on extractive industries.

‘Socialism or barbarism’: An important socialist slogan traced to its unexpected source

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg.

By Ian Angus

October 21, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- I think I have solved a small puzzle in socialist history. Climate & Capitalism’s tagline, “Ecosocialism or barbarism: There is no third way”, is based on the slogan, “Socialism or Barbarism”, which Rosa Luxemburg raised to such great effect during World War I and the subsequent German revolution, and which has been adopted by many socialists since then.

The puzzle is: where did the concept come from? Luxemburg’s own account doesn’t hold water, and neither do the attempts of left-wing scholars to explain (or explain away) the confusion in her explanation.

Fred Magdoff: Some suggestions for an ecologically sound and socially just economy

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology.]

By Fred Magdoff

September 2014 -- Monthly Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two weeks ago I returned from my fiftieth class reunion at Oberlin College in Ohio. The brief discussions I had there with environmental faculty and students left me feeling a bit dazed. So many good and intelligent people, so concerned, and doing what they think and hope will help heal the environment—this college has one of the best environmental education programs in the country.

Climate and collusion: 'The window to halt runaway climate change is closing fast'

Environmental activists attempt to gain access to the plenary session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 30, 2014 -- TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- – The movement from below to tackle climate change is gathering pace in South Africa and elsewhere in the world in advance of the September 21 mass march against the United Nations. 

Environmentalists lead, but this struggle invokes the world’s greatest class-race-gender-North-South conflicts, too. Ban Ki-Moon’s heads-of-state summit on September 23 may generate greater publicity for the cause, but if, as anticipated, world rulers simply slap each other on the back, activists will have to even more urgently intensify the pressure.

United States: ‘Right to farm’ scam -- third wave corporatocracy

By Don Fitz

August 21, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When Monsanto’s home state of Missouri passed the “Right to Farm” on August 5, 2014, the third noose of corporate control tightened around the neck of the United States. Unlike the first two steps of corporate domination of public life, this was a constitutional amendment that would block the state legislature or voters from passing future laws for environmental protection, animal welfare or labeling of contaminated food. This third wave corporatocracy could well spread across US and globally as it becomes a new form of mass disenfranchisement.

The environmental problem is catastrophe, not ‘catastrophism’: Ian Angus responds to Sam Gindin

How much more can the polar bear?

[For the rest of the debate, see On ‘environmental catastrophism’: Ian Angus replies to Sam Gindin” and "‘Environmental catastrophism’: a response to Ian Angus [by Sam Gindin]"

By Ian Angus

July 31, 2014 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission

Dear Sam Gindin,

I was pleased to receive and publishyour response to my article; the left can only gain from frank and open discussion of our differences. But I’m concerned that we’re spinning our wheels. As labour and green activist Terry Moore says in An activist comments on the "eco-catastrophism" debate, there has been “more heat than light and a lot of ‘talking past each other’ without real engaging on the key points being raised.”

‘Environmental catastrophism’: a response to Ian Angus

By Sam Gindin

[This is a response to “On ‘environmental catastrophism’: Ian Angus replies to Sam Gindin”.]

July 28, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The most critical question confronting anyone concerned with the environmental crisis is the political one: how to build a social force able to do something about it. The most important division among social activists is not between those who think an environmental collapse is imminent and those who think we will continue to stumble on in an ever uglier, degraded world. It is between those who believe that personal recycling, technical fixes, market incentives and green jobs can solve the environmental crisis, and those who argue the solutions are necessarily much more radical, extending to a challenge to capitalism itself.

On ‘environmental catastrophism’: Ian Angus replies to Sam Gindin

By Ian Angus

July 14, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Last year in Monthly Review, I debated Eddie Yuen, an anarchist who believes it is a mistake for radicals to focus on telling the truth about the global environmental crisis, because “awareness of climate crisis does not necessarily lead to increased political engagement.” Not only can such awareness lead to apathy, he wrote, but “environmental catastrophism is very likely to be mobilized by economic and national elites to reinforce existing inequalities and expand enclosures, commodification, and militarization”.[1]

I never expected to hear similar arguments from a Marxist, much less one I respect as much as Sam Gindin, a long-time leader of the labour movement in Canada, who is now an adjunct professor at York University and co-author of the Deutscher-prize winning book The Making of Global Capitalism.

Progressive ‘extractivism’: hope or dystopia?

By Don Fitz

July 4, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The controversy over "extractivism" in Latin America has become a lot hotter. Though social justice and environmental activists have sought a partnership for years, this could become a wedge issue. The debate is core to our conceptualisation of what type of society we are working to build and how we plan to get there.

Evo Morales: ‘Our liberation is for the whole of humanity’

Group of 77 Summit — Plurinational State of Bolivia, 14 and 15 June 2014. “For a New World Order for Living Well.”

"Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from predatory and insane capitalism. Another world is not only possible, it is indispensable, because otherwise, no world will be possible." -- Evo Morales

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, gave this remarkable opening talk at the summit of the Group of 77 plus China, meeting in Santa Clara, Bolivia, on June 14, 2014.

* * *

Introduction by Richard Fidler

June 24, 2014 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Summit of the Group of 77 plus China, marking the alliance’s 50th anniversary, closed in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on June 15 with the adoption of a declaration containing 242 articles, entitled “For a New World Order for Living Well.”

Cuando el árbol del “antiextractivismo” no deja ver el bosque

Miles de pueblos indígenas dirigidos por la CONAIE (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador) se reúnen en Quito en marzo 2012 Después de una marcha de 15 días exigiendo el fin de minería a cielo abierto y las nuevas concesiones petroleras.

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/3859. Haga clic aquí para más artículos en español.]

Por Federico Fuentes, traducido del inglés por Carlos Riba García

06-06-2014 -- Rebelion.org -- La reciente avalancha de campañas de alto perfil contra proyectos de extracción de materias primas ha abierto una importante y novedosa dinámica en los vastos procesos de cambio que se dan en América del Sur. La comprensión de su naturaleza y significación es decisiva para aprehender las complejidades inherentes al cambio social y mejorar la construcción de solidaridad con las luchas populares.

Bolivia: 'Earthwise' interview with Federico Fuentes

May 28, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Evo Morales has inspired a new confidence among the people of Bolivia that society does not have to be run according to neoliberal economics. Bolivia is leading the international call for "climate justice".

The New Zealand radio program Earthwise interviewed Federico Fuentes, editor of Bolivia Rising and co-author of Latin America's Turbulent Transitions, to find out more about the process of change taking place in Bolivia.

Deadly consequences of continued production of industrial chemicals

By Coral Wynter

The central problem of our age has therefore become the contamination of man’s total environment with such substances of incredible potential for harm—substances that accumulate in the tissue of plants and animals and even penetrate the germ cells to shatter or alter the very material of heredity upon which the shape of the future depends. -- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962

May 22, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There is an epidemic of diseases now sweeping the industrialised countries. These include obesity, diabetes type 2, high infertility rates affecting both men and women, high blood pressure, thyroid and central nervous system as well as cancers, mainly breast and prostate cancers. In addition to all of this, immune deficiencies.

South America: How ‘anti-extractivism’ misses the forest for the trees

Thousands of indigenous peoples led by CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) converge on Quito in March 2012 after a 15-day march demanding an end to open pit mining and new oil concessions.

By Federico Fuentes

May 20, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a shorter verson of this article appeared in Green Left Weekly -- A recent spate of high-profile campaigns against projects based on extracting raw materials has opened up an important new dynamic within the broad processes of change sweeping South America. Understanding their nature and significance is crucial to grasping the complexities involved in bringing about social change and how best to build solidarity with peoples’ struggles.

Climate change: Evidence of capitalism's death-wish

By Renfrey Clarke

April 26, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- If modern industrial capitalism were a person, he or she would be on suicide watch. The system that has brought us quantum physics and reality television, modern medicine and the columns of Andrew Bolt is set on a course which, by all the best reckoning, points directly to its doing itself in.

If capitalism goes on — everything goes. Climate, coastlines, most living species, food supplies, the great bulk of humanity. And certainly, the preconditions for advanced civilisation, perhaps forever.

Moreover, we’re not just talking risk, in the sense of an off-chance. These are the most likely outcomes for capitalism’s current policies and performance in the area of climate change.

As far back as 2010 the famed US paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson told a gathering of scientists in Phoenix, Arizona: “Climatologists, like other scientists, tend to be a stolid group … Why then are climatologists speaking out about the dangers of global warming? The answer is that virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”

What did that ‘NASA-funded collapse study’ really say?

The four formulas in the HANDY Model
Can four equations explain the collapse of civilisations?

By Ian Angus

March 31, 2014 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- If hundreds of newspaper and online reports are to be believed, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Agency have proven that Western civilisation will collapse unless we radically reduce inequality and shift to renewable resources.

That would be important news if it were true. Is it?

Australia: How the Aboriginal people managed 'the biggest estate on Earth'

Review by Coral Wynter

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia
By Bill Gammage

Allen & Unwin, 434 pp., 2012

March 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is an extraordinary book, one that will increase your appreciation of the country’s first people, as we begin to understand their amazing knowledge and sheer genius in the way they cared for the land, or as Bill Gammage calls it the “biggest estate on Earth”.

Gammage describes with many examples how the Aborigines looked after the land. No corner was forgotten, including deserts, rainforests and rocky outcrops, across the entire continent for at least 60,000 years until the colonisers began to destroy all this labour after their arrival in 1788.

Germany: Union militant on how wind-power development is held to ransom for profit

Wind turbine towers at Bremerhaven port. Photo by Lucy Alcorn.

March 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance member Zane Alcorn spoke with Ali Can, a metalworker who has worked in the wind-turbine industry in the north German portside town Bremerhaven. Ali is a rank and file organiser with the trade union IGMetal and is an active member of Verein für Gleiche Rechte (Equal Rights Association), a secular Turkish community centre. Translated by Anne K. Schulz.

Can you tell us a little about Bremerhaven – how many people live here, what are the main industries, how has the city changed in the last 20 years?

Has King Environmentalism no green clothes?

Green illusions: The dirty secrets of clean energy and the future of environmentalism,
by Ozzie Zehner
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012
437 pages, $29.95 ISBN-978-0-8032-3775-9 (paper)

Review by Don Fitz

March 9, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Should a post-capitalist society dedicate itself to using “green” energy or concentrate on using less energy? Environmentalists, trade unionists and many socialists often shout “Green energy!” in unison. Ozzie Zehner says that they could well be barking up the wrong tree.

Zehner’s Green Illusions emphasises that wrong solutions are not “solutions” at all. Though he focuses on shortcomings of reformist environmentalists, his critiques could also apply to many “revolutionary” socialists whose understanding of energy economics can be as empty as that of corporate executives.

A visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Zehner first appeared on national TV with the hybrid car he designed and built. Then he saw the light. The book is from the point of view of someone whose life work has been understanding a myriad of technical issues but who is able to present them in a way that the non-techie can follow.

The new revolutionaries: Climate scientists demand radical change

By Renfrey Clarke

January 9, 2014 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony.” That was in a blog posting last year by Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at Manchester University. One of Britain’s most eminent climate scientists, Anderson is also deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Or, we might take this blunt message, from an interview in November: “We need bottom-up and top-down action. We need change at all levels.” Uttering those words was Tyndall Centre senior research fellow and Manchester University reader Alice Bows-Larkin. Anderson and Bows-Larkin are world-leading specialists on the challenges of climate change mitigation.

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