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John Bellamy Foster: The ecology of Marxian political economy

[This article is an extended version of a talk delivered at the Marxism 2011 Conference, University College of London, July 3, 2011. Click HERE to view a video of that talk. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to consider subscribing to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. John Bellamy Foster will be a featured international guest at the second World at a Crossroads: Climate Change – Social Change Conference, Friday, September 30 – Monday, October 3, 2011, Melbourne University.]

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By John Bellamy Foster

Mauritius: Marxism, ecology and the contribution of John Bellamy Foster

By Lalit de Klas

June 2011 – Lalit [the revolutionary socialist party in Mauritius] sees the natural universe, whether it be the air above us, the sea around us or the Earth we walk upon, and all that lives upon it, and even outer space, as being our collective heritage as human beings. We are part of it, and also the guardians of it. This natural universe, our Mother Earth, is now endangered.

Our planet is already suffering irreversible damage, damage so serious as to threaten the very existence of the totality of human civilisation in all its varied forms. We humans have the minds to know this.

The threat is posed by our own human-made forms of agricultural and industrial “development”. This is serious because it is our way of survival that has become this destructiveness.

The main damage has been done in the past 250 years. Increasingly serious damage is being done. And yet most of us are oblivious to it, and once we know, we are “helpless”. We sit and watch a potential meltdown of a nuclear plant in Japan, as the capitalists who run it admit their own helplessness.

Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin: 'Agent Orange in Vietnam was a crime against humanity'

Appeal of the Second International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin

Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam

August 9, 2011 -- The Second International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, held in Hanoi from August 8 to 9, 2011, included participants from around the world: Agent Orange victims, victims of other toxic chemicals, scientists, lawyers and social activists. The conference is a significant and important historic event, marking the 50th anniversary of the first spraying of the toxic chemical Agent Orange (1961-1971) by the US forces in Vietnam and Indochina.

The delegates to the conference agree that:

During the Vietnam War, from 1961 to 1971, US forces through Operation Ranch Hand sprayed nearly 80 million litrrs of herbicides over South Vietnam, of which 61% was Agent Orange containing at least 366kg of dioxin, the most toxic substance known to science.

Marxism has an ecological heart

Credit: Galen Johnson/Canadian Dimension.

By Ash Pemberton

August 13, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- We all know there’s a big problem with the environment and it needs drastic action to fix it. So does a Marxist analysis of the problem bring anything new to the table?

Marxism redefines the terms of the mainstream environmental debate. Instead of seeing the problem as one of humans versus nature, the problem is framed as one where humans and nature are intrinsically linked and ecological crises arise in which the relationship between the two is thrown into imbalance.

I think a Marxist analysis best describes the connection between human society and the rest of nature in a historical perspective. From this we can better understand the current crises and humanity’s task for the foreseeable future.

Capitalism

First, a few things to keep in mind about capitalism. Under the laws of the capitalist system, profits must continually expand or the system will collapse. This expansion has taken new forms over history, involving different combinations of exploitation of people, the environment and a fair share of economic trickery and speculation.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Building an eco-socialist network in New Zealand

Statement by Socialist Worker central committee

August 11, 2011 -- Unityblog -- The crises of global capitalism, coupled with catastrophic climate change and peak resources, is going to bring about profound social, ecological and political upheavals.

There is evidence of this happening globally already. We can point to the Arab revolts that have toppled US-backed regimes and the emergence of anti-neoliberal movements of workers and young people in a number of European countries. Part of the context for these revolts is the global financial crisis, which is ongoing and will unravel further, impacting severely on the lives of grassroots people around the world.

While the current political situation in New Zealand is a big step away from mass revolt, the forces at work in this country are similar. Masses of ordinary people are hurting, there’s simmering anger towards politicians and other corporate elites, and there’s growing concern at the ecological catastrophe that humanity faces. The political quietism will not last indefinitely.

What can eco-socialists do today to prepare our forces for the historic challenges in front of us?

Leaving oil in the soil, from Durban's coast to Ecuador's Amazon

The decrepit 40-year-old tanker, MT Phoenix, lost its anchor mooring on July 26, 2011, and was pushed to the rocky shoreline in Christmas Bay, 25 kilometres north of Durban.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

August 2, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There's no way around it: to solve the worsening climate crisis requires we must accept both that the vast majority of fossil fuels must now be left underground, and that through democratic planning, we must collectively reboot our energy, transport, agricultural, production, consumption and disposal systems so that by 2050 we experience good living with less than a quarter of our current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

That's what science tells our species, and here in South Africa a punctuation mark was just provided by a near-disaster in Durban -- host of the world climate summit, four months from now -- during intense storms with six-metre waves last week. A decrepit 40-year-old tanker, MT Phoenix, lost its anchor mooring on July 26 and was pushed to the rocky shoreline in Christmas Bay, 25 kilometres north of the city.

Fred Magdoff & John Bellamy Foster: 'What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism' (exclusive excerpt)

August 1, 2011 -- Monthly Review Press has kindly given permission to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish "The growth imperative of capitalism", an exclusive excerpt from Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster's just released What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.

John Bellamy Foster will be a featured international guest at the second World at a Crossroads: Climate Change – Social Change Conference, Friday, September 30 – Monday, October 3, 2011, Melbourne University.

From a Malaysian police cell: 'Why I am a socialist and intend to remain so', explains Jeyakumar Devaraj

[Jeyakumar Devaraj, a federal member of parliament, is one of six Malaysian socialists being held without trial since June 25. Protest letters still are urgently needed to be sent to the Malaysian government, please visit http://www.parti-sosialis.org/en/en/articles/1585 for details of where they can be sent. See also "Malaysia: Protests demand release of democracy activists" and "Asia-Pacific socialists demand: 'Free all political prisoners! Democracy for the Malaysian people!'".]

By Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, written in detention

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Greed is good, as long as it's green

Greens Party co-leader Russel Norman sees the big business Pure Advantage group as "being an important ally for the Green Party’s vision of smart green prosperity".

[Sue Bradford will be a speaker at the World at a Crossroads II: Climate change: social change conference, in Melbourne, Australia, September 30-October 3, 2011.]

By Sue Bradford

Deep ecology versus ecosocialism: A letter on population, wilderness and ecosocialism

"If ecosocialists support wilderness clearances and population reduction they will be on the wrong side of some of the most important struggles in the world today." -- Ian Angus
[Ian Angus will be a feature speaker at the World at a Crossroads II: Climate change: social change conference, in Melbourne, Australia, September 30-October 3, 2011.]

July 4, 2011 -- The following is Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus’s response to "Saral Sarkar on Malthusianism and Ecosocialism" and Sarkar’s "Reply to some points made by my critics and sympathizers". It is part of a continuing discussion taking place on Climate and Capitalism (see the links at the end of the article).

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Dear Saral Sarkar,

The deep green meaning of Fukushima

[For previous articles by Don Fitz, click HERE.]

By Don Fitz

June 26, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Humanity must decrease its use of energy. The decrease must be a lot (not a little bit) and it must happen soon. A failure to do so will lay the foundation for the destruction of human life by some combination of climate change and radiation.

How long will the disastrous consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan continue? A good estimate is about 4.5 billion years — the half life of uranium-238. [1] The March 11, 2011, meltdowns sounded alarms that environmentalists have rung for over half a century. There is also a deeper green meaning: the limits of economic growth have long since passed and we need to design a world with considerably less stuff.

The industry claims that there is such a thing as a safe level of radiation and that nuclear production can be safe. Both are profoundly untrue.

The truth behind Chevron's greenwashing: 'The true cost of Chevron'

June 22, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Television viewers in Australia are being bombarded by an expensive series of PR advertisements extolling how much the giant "energy" corporation Chevron "agrees" with the Australian people's concerns for the environment. In a classic example of "greenwashing", Chevron's "We Agree" campaign is a concerted effort to defuse opposition to its activities around the world.

But as with most capitalist advertising, the truth and reality behind the glossy claims are very different, as the True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report below highlights in extensive detail. Fortunately too, the satirical exposers of corporate shams the Yes Men joined forces with the environmental groups Amazon Watch and the Rainforest Action Network to issue a bogus press release and set up a phony website to expose the "We Agree" campaign.

Excerpts from 'Environment, Capitalism and Socialism': Sources of modern environmentalism; Currents in ecological thought

The following are excerpts from Environment, Capitalism and Socialism, drafted for the  Democratic Socialist Party of Australia by Dick Nichols,and  published by Resistance Books in 1999. The book can be purchased from Resistance Books' website. The extensive footnotes are only available in the hard copy. (The DSP merged with the Socialist Alliance in January 2010.) Despite its age and inevitable flaws, this book was ahead of its time in many respects and was among the first serious attempts by a revolutionary party to apply a Marxist analysis to the environment question. It remains an essential document for socialists and ecologists alike.
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Deep ecology versus ecosocialism

[Ian Angus will be a feature speaker at the World at a Crossroads II: Climate change: social change conference, in Melbourne, Australia, September 30-October 3, 2011.]

By Ian Angus

June 19, 2011 --This article first appeared at Climate and Capitalism. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Some people believe that deep ecology is not just compatible with ecosocialism, but a way to improve it. That’s a profound misconception that ignores deep ecology’s anti-human core. The following was first posted on the online discussion group that was set up after the founding of the Ecosocialist international Network. I have added some suggestions for further reading.

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Stand up for Africa! Stand up for climate justice!

June 4, 2011 -- From May 24 to 26, 2011, representatives of African trade unions, farmers, women and faith-based groups, as well as key African non-governmental organisations and networks concerned with the climate change crisis met in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss shared strategies to confront this crisis and its root causes.

Under the joint sponsorship of the Africa Trade Network (ATN), the International Trade Union Confederation-Africa (ITUC-Africa) and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the meeting deliberated on the threats posed to the peoples of Africa and the world over by climate change, as well as the continuing inaction by governments in the face of these threats. The meeting reached shared understandings and adopted the conclusions that follow.

World Bank’s neoliberal Africa strategy signals worsening uneven development

By Patrick Bond

May 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A renewed wave of development babble began flowing soon after the February launch of the World Bank’s 10-year strategy document, Africa's Future and the World Bank‘s Support to it. Within three months, a mini-tsunami of Afro-optimism swept in: the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for SubSaharan Africa, the Economic Commission on Africa’s upbeat study, the African World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report and the African Development Bank’s discovery of a vast new “middle class” (creatively defined to include the 20% of Africans whose expenditures are US$2-4 a day).

Bangladesh: Climate change and neoliberal policies

By Danielle Sabai

May 9, 2011 -- Asia Left Observer, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Located in the largest delta at the world, where two Himalayan rivers, the Brahmaputra and the Ganges, converge and flow into the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is used to climatic catastrophes. Half of the land area of Bangladesh is less than 10 metres above sea level. It consists mainly of silt deposited by the rivers that flow down from the Himalayan glaciers. When the snow melts it regularly causes large-scale floods. The coast is at the mercy of cyclones and giant waves which submerge the coastal areas.

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