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Barry Commoner, 1917-2012: one of ecosocialism's most important pioneers

For more tributes to Barry Commoner, visit Climate & Capitalism and Climate Change Social Change.

By Ian Angus

October 2, 2012 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission --  Barry Commoner died on September 30, at the age of 95 in New York. He never called himself an ecosocialist, but he was one of our most important precursors.

He was a founder of the modern environmental movement, an anti-war activist and a powerful critic of capitalism. His 1971 book, The Closing Circle, was a pioneering analysis of the economic and social causes of environmental destruction. At a time when most writers were blaming individual behaviour or overpopulation for pollution, Commoner exposed the role of capitalism and profit.

Green is also the colour of money: EU carbon trading failure as a model for the 'green economy'

By Ricardo Coelho

September 16, 2012 -- Corner House/Carbon Trade Watch -- The first two phases of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (2005-2007, 2008-2012) allocated free permits according to historical emissions; a practice known as "grandfathering" that has acted as a de facto subsidy for the biggest polluters. Electricity producers, for example, by increasing electricity prices in line with the price of the permits they received for free, have made windfall profits of between €23 to €71 billion during the second phase. The third phase (2013-2020) will still see significant subsidies paid to industry.

South Africa: The massacre of our illusions … and the seeds of something new

By Leonard Gentle, director of the International Labour Research and Information Group (South Africa)

August 23, 2012 -- ILRIG -- The story of Marikana has so far been painted shallowly as an inter-union spat. In the first few days after the August16 police killing of  34 striking mineworkers, employed by the Lonmin mining corporation, and the shock and horror of watching people being massacred on TV, there have correctly been howls of anger and grief. Of course no one wants to take responsibility because to do so would be to acknowledge blame.

Some pundits have even gone the way of warning at anyone “pointing figures” or “stoking anger”. That buffoon, African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema, stepped forward as if scripted, and promptly lent credibility to those warnings. So South African President Jacob Zuma’s setting up of an inquiry and his call for a week of mourning for the deceased and their families could come across as “statesmanlike”.

Another Olympics is possible: the socialist sports movements of the past

For more discussion of issues surrounding sport and politics, click HERE. For more on the Olympics, click HERE.

August 7, 2012 -- As Mike Marqusee points out in an article posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, the modern Olympic Games are "a symbolic package: individual excellence at the service of the nation-state under the overlordship of multinational capital". Today, the domination of most sport by the capitalist corporations, crude nationalism and dog-eat-dog ideology is almost complete, occasionally challenged by the actions a few principled groups and individuals. But that was not always the case.

In fact, in the early decades of the 20th century, there were mass socialist-inspired workers' sports movements that sought, to varying degrees, to challenge capitalist control and ideology in sport. The goal was to organise working-class people through sport and leisure, and in some cases to attempt to fashion a new conception of sport.

Mike Marqusee at the Olympics: 'Individual excellence at the service of the nation-state and multinational capital'

"The Tommie Smith/John Carlos 'black power' salute of 1968 – two medal winners overturning the symbolism, refusing to let their individual excellence serve the forces that degraded them and their people." 

For more discussion of issues surrounding sport and politics, click HERE. For more on the Olympics, click HERE.

By Mike Marqusee, London

August 4, 2012 -- Mike Marqusee.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- I enjoyed my afternoon at the Olympics, sitting in my public lottery assigned £50 seat at the ExCel, with a fine view of the men’s boxing. And I enjoyed it not least because I was finally able to watch the sport itself without the surrounding hype, the layers of commentary. For a moment there was only that pleasure special to sport: the spontaneity of a story being fashioned in front of your own eyes, once and once only (despite digital repeats), robustly itself and not pretending to be anything else.

Ian Angus: The return of the population bombers

Earth Day 1970 poster. People are the enemy.

[For more discussion on the population issue, click HERE.]

The following talk was presented at the Marxism 2012 conference in Toronto in May, and at the Socialism 2012 conference in Chicago in June. A recording of the Chicago presentation can be heard online at wearemany.org.

Overpopulation ideology undermined the environmental movement in the 1970s, diverting social protest into harmless channels. To prevent a similar setback today, we must understand populationism’s conservative role, and why it is attractive to a growing number of green activists.

By Ian Angus

July 22, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of socialist Renewal with permission -- As you know, Simon Butler and I have written many articles and an entire book refuting the claim that the environmental crisis is caused by overpopulation and the related idea that environmentalists should make reducing birth rates and immigration a top priority.

China, Apple and the labour process

Demonstrators outside an Apple store in Hong Kong protest about the poor working conditions of employees of Taiwan's Foxconn which manufactures Apple products in China.

[More articles by Martin Hart-Landsberg; more on China]

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

July 19, 2012 -- Reports From the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Contemporary capitalism, driven by the competitive pursuit of private profit, tends to produce a stream of innovative goods and services. Of course this drive for private profit generally ensures that these goods and services will be the ones that are most likely to satisfy the desires of those with the greatest purchasing power. Less appreciated is the fact that this pursuit of private profit also tends to promote production processes that are based on exploitative work conditions. A case in point: Apple products.

Israel’s environmental colonialism and eco-apartheid

The construction of Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and destroyed Palestinians' legally owned fertile agricultural land.

By Ben Lorber

July 12, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the idea of Zionism first gripped the minds of a few intellectuals and the limbs of many agrarian pioneers in the early 20th century, the state of Israel has presented its settlement of the land of Palestine, and its uprooting of the Palestinian people, as a rejuvenation of the earth. By “greenwashing” the occupation, Israel hides its apartheid behind an environmentalist mirage, and distracts public attention not only from its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, but from its large-scale degradation of the earth upon which these tragedies unfold.

Determined to “make the desert bloom”, an international organisation -- the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL, or JNF) planted forests, recreational parks and nature reserves to cover over the ruins of Palestinian villages, as refugees were scattered far from, or worse, a few hilltops away from, the land upon which they and their ancestors had based their lives and livelihoods.

Video: 'The Story of Change' -- Can shopping save the world? (with script)

The latest episode in the Story of ... videos. More at the Story of Stuff project. Annie Leonard is the creator of the Story of Stuff project, a series of animated films that discuss our pressing social, environmental and economic concerns and the effort to build a more sustainable and just world. To see some of the earlier films in the series, as well as read some of the discussion they have generated, click HERE. The original Story of Stuff is available HERE.

Video: Stop the financialisation of nature!

June 28, 2012 -- ATTAC.TV -- A recently released, short animated film about the takeover of nature by financial markets and the real alternatives coming up from the civil society.

An initiative of SOMO, European Attac Network, Food&Water Europe, Friends of Earth, Amis de la Terre, Carbon Trade Watch, WEED, Ecologistas en Acción, Aitec and Campagna per la riforma della Banca Mondiale. Produced by La Antena and AttacTV. Animated by desarme s.c.

Values versus prices at the Rio+20 Earth Summit: 'the Green Economy is the environmentalism of the rich'

Climate Connections, June 18, 2012 -- What’s wrong with the green economy?: Joanna Cabello of Carbon Trade Watch at Rio+20.

For more coverage of the Rio+20, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond, Rio de Janeiro

June 18, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a version of this article also appeared at Climate and Capitalism -- Given the worsening world economic crisis, the turn to "Green Economy" rhetoric looms as a potential saviour for footloose financial capital, and is also enormously welcome to those corporations panicking at market chaos in the topsy turvy fossil-fuel, water, infrastructure construction, technology and agriculture sectors.

On the other hand, for everyone else, the Rio+20 Earth Summit underway this week in Brazil, devoted to advancing Green Economy policies and projects, appears as an overall disaster zone for the people and planet.

Beautiful green world? On the myth of the green capitalist economy

By the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

June 13, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The "green economy": It will stop climate change and the extinction of species and in so doing will create high growth rates and millions of jobs. It’s seen as a miraculous weapon. Through it, global capitalism will be stabilised. And then it will be sustainable as well.

But what is the green economy? In it, policy parameters are supposed to ensure the flow of capital to make markets and the economy "greener" and create "green" jobs. Enterprises are to pay an "appropriate" price for environmental damage. And not least: the state is supposed to orient its public procurements to sustainability criteria and create sustainable infrastructures.

As of June 2012 at the UN’s Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro, the green economy is to become a new central concept of global policy. The conference is taking place on the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, where the magic formula "sustainable development" was coined.

Harmony and ecological civilisation: Beyond the capitalist alienation of nature


[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.]

By Fred Magdoff

June 4, 2012 -- Monthly Review -- Let me begin by making clear that I am not a philosopher nor am I well versed in Chinese cultural history. My background is in agriculture, specifically soil fertility and health, from which I have branched out into areas of ecology and ecological approaches to agriculture and society.

Pablo Solon on Rio+20: 'We must change the capitalist system, not Earth's system'

Earth photographed from Russia's Electro-L weather satellite, taken from 36,000 kilometres with a high-definition 121-megapixel camera, creating the sharpest image of our planet yet.

By Pablo Solon

May 16, 2012 -- Focus on the Global South/Climate and Capitalism -- Twenty years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, the environmental crisis continues to worsen.

The unsustainable development model that gained dominance in the world resulted to grave loss of biodiversity, melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, alarming increase in deforestation and desertification and the looming danger of an at least 4º C increase in temperature, which will threaten life as we know it.

Science is saying that we are approaching a point of no return that will change the way our planet has behaved over 650,000 years.

Revolutionising production itself: for humanity and for the world

Under capitalism it is “profitable” to scar the precious mountains to retrieve coal in small seams.

By Mike Ely

April 24, 2012 -- Kasama, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- There is a valuable exchange happening on the Kasama website site. I won’t try to encapsulate it here, but want to respond to it. I think there are some sharp contradictions here — that are posed within our theory, and within the very choices facing people.

A horizon beyond scarcity and inequality

USA: 'Capitalism or Common Sense?' An Occupy Wall Street Class War Camp pamphlet

At the request of the author, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is happy to make available a new pamphlet produced by radical Occupy activists in United States, in the interests of the advancing discussion in the movement. The pamphlet can be downloaded free HERE (in PDF) or you can read it on screen below.

* * *

For more on the #Occupy movement, click here.

By Pham Binh

April 18, 2012

Occupy!

Who would’ve imagined the word “occupy” would inspire millions to take direct action and stand up for the 99% here in America after brutal occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine?

Now there’s Occupy Pakistan and even Occupy Nigeria.

Occupy is more than a movement, less than a revolution, and long overdue. Occupy isn’t about ideology, it’s about the 99%, hence why pacifists and insurrectionists, anti-capitalist anarchists/socialists and pro-capitalist libertarians, liberal Democrats and Ron Paul Republicans, vegans and omnivores have come together despite our differences.

South African metalworkers: 'Workers must lead the transition to a green economy'


Frank Hammer interviews Cedric Gina, president of the 287,000-member National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), about the need for workers to lead the transition to a green economy and the creation of green jobs. NUMSA advocates public ownership to achieve the necessary changes required to combat global warming. The interview, broadcast on the Real News Network on February 12, 2012, followed a NUMSA-sponsored conference on fighting climate change. More details on the conference can be found on Frank Hammer's Converge2Convert website.

Post-socialism, the European Union and a new left in the Balkans: Welcome to the desert of transition!

Protesters rally during anti-government protest in Zagreb, Croatia, March 2011. Photograph: Darko Bandic/AP.

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.]

By Srećko Horvat and Igor Štiks

Doug Lorimer's introduction to 'Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism'

Introduction by Doug Lorimer

I. Lenin's aims in writing this work

The term "imperialism" came into common usage in England in the 1890s as a development of the older term "empire" by the advocates of a major effort to extend the British Empire in opposition to the policy of concentrating on national economic development, the supporters of which the advocates of imperialism dismissed as "Little Englanders". The term was rapidly taken into other languages to describe the contest between rival European states to secure colonies and spheres of influence in Africa and Asia, a contest that dominated international politics from the mid-1880s to 1914, and caused this period to be named the "age of imperialism".

The first systematic critique of imperialism was made by the English bourgeois social-reformist economist John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940) in his 1902 book Imperialism: A Study, which, as Lenin observes at the beginning of his own book on the subject, "gives a very good and comprehensive description of the principal specific economic and political features of imperialism" (see below, p. 33).

Lenin had long been familiar with Hobson's book. Indeed, in a letter written from Geneva to his mother in St. Petersburg on August 29, 1904, Lenin stated that he had just "received Hobson's book on imperialism and have begun translating it" into Russian.(1)

Green energy alone won’t save the Earth without system change

By Ian Angus

March 21, 2012 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The most popular techno-fix for global warming is green energy. If energy companies would only deploy wind, hydro, solar, geothermal or nuclear, then emission-intensive fossil fuels will eventually disappear. But will that actually work?

A new study by Richard York of the University of Oregon shows that it isn’t that simple. Rather than displacing fossil fuels, green energy sources have proven to be mostly additive.

“Do alternative energy sources displace fossil fuels?”, published this month in Nature Climate Change, discusses what happened when alternative energy sources were introduced in countries around the world, over the past 50 years.

Contrary to the accepted wisdom that new green energy replaces fossil-fuel use, York found that on average each unit of energy use from non-fossil-fuel sources displaced less than a quarter of a unit of energy use from fossil-fuel sources.

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