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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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Breaking the real taboo in the population debate

By Ian Angus

April 27, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism -- Is there a taboo against attributing environmental problems to population growth? Are populationist views being suppressed?

Sir David Attenborough thinks so. On March 10, the noted naturalist and broadcaster told a meeting in London that there is a “strange silence … some bizarre taboo” about the population issue. This “absurd taboo” has “a powerful grip on the minds of so many worthy and intelligent people”. Attenborough urged his listeners to “break the taboo”, by raising the population issue whenever and wherever they could.

Who was he talking to? Who were the brave people who dared to listen to a talk on this forbidden topic? Was it some secretive group, hanging on despite all odds, somehow keeping alive the truths that are suppressed by the powers that be?

Well, no.

`Overpopulation' — a political weapon for conservatives

By Simon Butler

July 24, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- Forget about the climate science and the record high temperatures. Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has decided she doesn’t need a serious climate change policy to win the August 21 federal election. In its place, she kicked off her election campaign on July 18 with a “sustainable Australia” policy. It promised a future of low population growth, which “preserves our quality of life and respects our environment”.

Opposition leader and climate denier Tony Abbott was quick to say he fully agreed with this vision, but was even more committed to it than Gillard.

From a conservative point of view it makes sense to raise the spectre of overpopulation in this election campaign. Population control is the mother of all political diversion tactics. Population levels explain nothing about social problems. But they can be scapegoated for just about everything, from traffic jams and home prices to grocery bills and climate change.

Australia: `Sustainable population?' -- Scapegoating migrants and refugees for the capitalist system's ills

To read more on the discussion around population, click HERE.

By Graham Matthews

July 24, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- In one of her first policy changes after replacing Kevin Rudd as leader of the Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister Julia Gillard dumped Rudd’s idea of a “big Australia”. On June 26, Gillard said “Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population”. Instead, she called for a “sustainable population”.

Almost four weeks on, however, Labor’s policy has no details — just lots of rhetoric designed to pander to fears that immigration (particularly asylum seekers) is causing a raft of social problems.

Video: The Malthus myth: Population, poverty and climate change

May 30, 2010 -- Capitalism and Climate -- Most of what you've heard about Robert Malthus is wrong. He didn't predict a population explosion, and he didn't think we should control our population. His real goal was to convince people that society cannot be improved, that most people will always be poor. "The Malthus Myth: Population, Poverty and Climate Change" was a talk presented by Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism and a contributing editor of Socialist Voice, at Socialism 2010 in Toronto, May 22, 2010. Many thanks to Pance Stojkovski, who recorded this presentation and edited it for Socialist Project's LeftStreamed.

Women’s rights, population and climate change: The debate continues

March 7, 2010 -- Climate and Capitalism -- Should climate activists and feminists support campaigns to slow population growth? Laurie Mazur says that alliance will strengthen the movement. Ian Angus strongly disagrees …

Introduction

Climate and Capitalism recently published a debate between Betsy Hartmann and Laurie Mazur about campaigns that promote family planning and reproductive health programs as means of slowing population growth and fighting global warming.

The site subsequently published a reply to Laurie Mazur in which Ian Angus argued: “The combination of population reduction and women’s rights was already like oil and water. Adding CO2 reductions to the mix only makes things worse.”

`Population Justice' -- Blaming Third World women for global warming

By Ian Angus

January 31, 2010 -- Climate and Capitalism -- For more than two centuries, the idea that the world’s ills are caused by poor people having too many babies has been remarkably successful at diverting attention from the complex social causes of poverty and injustice.

Forty years ago, Paul Ehrlich’s bestseller The Population Bomb applied the idea to environmental problems:

The causal chain of deterioration is easily followed to its source. Too many cars, too many factories, too much detergent, too much pesticide, multiplying contrails. Inadequate sewage treatment plants, too little water, too much carbon dioxide – all can be traced easily to too many people.[1]

Ehrlich’s book convinced many environmentalists, and led to the formation of a variety of groups that focused solely on the supposed evils of overpopulation.

Today, as women’s rights activist Betsy Hartmann warns in a recent article, populationist arguments are back – but now groups such as the US-based Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth) and the UK’s Optimum Population Trust have added a “faux feminist twist” to their attacks on the reproductive rights of Third World women.

People are not pollution -- Why climate activists should not support limits on immigration

`Despite the good intentions of its green advocates, support for immigration controls strengthens the most regressive forces in our societies and weakens our ability to stop climate change'. The cartoon above by Nicholson depicts the anti-refugee government of John Howard, many of whose policies remain in force under the Australian Labor Party.

By Ian Angus and Simon Butler

January 25, 2010 -- Immigrants to the developed world have frequently been blamed for unemployment, crime and other social ills. Attempts to reduce or block immigration have been justified as necessary measures to protect “our way of life” from alien influences.

Today, some environmentalists go farther, arguing that sharp cuts in immigration are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. However sincere and well-meaning such activists may be, their arguments are wrong and dangerous, and should be rejected by the climate emergency movement.

Population control’s dark past

Fatal Misconception: The struggle to control world population
By Matthew Connelly, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2008. 521 pages.

Review by Simon Butler

November 16, 2009 -- A select group of billionaires met in semi-secrecy in May 2009 to find answers to a “nightmarish” concern. Their worst nightmare wasn’t the imminent danger of runaway climate change, the burgeoning levels of hunger worldwide or the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

The nightmare was other people – lots of other people.

The self-styled “Good Group” included Microsoft founder Bill Gates, media mogul Ted Turner, David Rockefeller Jr and financiers George Soros and Warren Buffet.

The London Sunday Times said they discussed a plan to tackle overpopulation, something they considered “a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat”.

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