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Marxism & ecology

John Bellamy Foster on the economic and ecological crises: `The common denominator is capitalism'

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly's Ruth Ratcliffe

A 20-minute interview recorded with a handheld cam in Oregon, USA, in February 2009. John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthy Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is co-author, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. Foster discusses the global economic crisis, its implications for the world and particularly the Australian economy. He also discusses the ecological crisis and the potential for revolutionary change.

Review: A materialist critique of pseudo-science

Review by Duroyan Fertl

Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present
By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark & Richard York
Monthly Review Press, 2008
240 pages

March 13, 2009 -- In recent decades a form of militant creationism — masquerading as science under the name of “Intelligent Design” — has gone on the offensive, promoting the teaching of biblical creationism in schools, and carrying out a broader “wedge strategy”, aimed at transforming the place and nature of science in society.

Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present, is almost overdue in this respect. It traces the rise of the “design” phenomenon, and its relationship to conservative, right-wing politics, and places it in the context of a 2500-year-long debate between materialism and creationism that lies at the heart of Western civilisation.

Paul M. Sweezy: Cars and cities -- `automobilisation' and the `automobile-industrial complex'

By Paul M. Sweezy

[This classic essay first appeared in Monthly Review, vol. 24, no. 11 (April 1973). It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of Monthly Review.]

“Cities, after all, have a great deal in common with cars. More and more, in fact, they often seem to be turning into cars. There are deep mysteries here, impenetrable to the present shallow state of human understanding. Somehow, we know not how, things communicate.” — Russell Baker, New York Times, March 8, 1973

Market madness: `Oversupply' of water tanks during a record water crisis!

Not enough water; `too many' tanks

By Dave Holmes

Melbourne, February 26, 2009 -- Australian plastics manufacturer Nylex has been placed in the hands of receivers. Nylex is a well-known name — the company produces the iconic Esky, water tanks, wheelie bins, hose and garden fittings and interior trimmings for car manufacturers. According to the February 13 Melbourne Age, “The drought and a government rebate stimulated demand for water tanks, but oversupply pushed down prices and demand collapsed after substantial rain in Queensland and NSW.”

The slump in the auto industry also contributed to the company’s woes. In the end, the banks (ANZ and Westpac) called in their loans.

The jobs of its 700-strong work force are in the balance. The receivers may or may not find a buyer for Nylex, but any new owner is likely to heavily restructure the company, leading to substantial job losses.

Karl Marx the ecologist

By Simon Butler

February 21, 2009 -- As the world economy spirals down into its deepest crisis since the great depression, the writings of Karl Marx have made a return to the top seller lists in bookstores. In his native Germany, the sales of Marx’s works have trebled.

His theories have been treated with contempt by conservative economists and historians. Yet, in the context of the latest economic downturn, even a few mainstream economists have been compelled to ask whether Marx was right after all.

Marx argued that capitalism is inherently unstable, fraught with contradictions and prone to deep crises.

Exploitation, war, hunger and poverty were not problems that could be solved by the market system, he said. Rather, they were inescapable outcomes of the system itself. This is because capitalism is dominated by the wealthiest corporations and devoted to profit above all else.

Only a move to a democratic socialist society, where ordinary people are empowered to make the key decisions about the economy and society themselves, can open the path to genuine freedom and liberation.

Rifts and shifts and Marx -- Getting to the root of environmental crises

http://www.deviantart.com/print/1778668/?utm_source=deviantart&utm_medium=deviationpage&utm_campaign=buyprintbottom

By Brett Clark and Richard York

[This article, which first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Monthly Review, has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

Humans depend on functioning ecosystems to sustain themselves and their actions affect those same ecosystems. As a result, there is a necessary “metabolic interaction” between humans and the earth, which influences both natural and social history. Increasingly, the state of nature is being defined by the operations of the capitalist system, as anthropogenic forces are altering the global environment on a scale that is unprecedented.

John Bellamy Foster: Ecology and the transition from capitalism to socialism

Walk Against Warming, Sydney, 2006.
Photo by Alex Bainbridge/Green Left Weekly

By John Bellamy Foster

[This article, which first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Monthly Review, is a revised version of a keynote address delivered at the “Climate Change, Social Change” conference, Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2008, organised by Green Left Weekly. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. Watch and listen to Bellamy Foster's presentation HERE. For more articles on Marxism and the ecology, click HERE.]

Sustainable capitalism?

By David Travis

September 9, 2008 -- On the fringe of the green movement, one always hears the following phrases coming from the mainstream with great regularity: "green capitalism", "sustainable capitalism", "social entrepreneurs", "green entrepreneurs", etc. None of these terms tend to mean anything specific, and no one who uses them is in a great hurry to spell out, for example, how a green entrepreneur is different in any fundamental way from some other kind of entrepreneur, or how capitalism could be driven toward sustainability rather than profit. So you can imagine my pleasure at meeting the author of a book called Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense.

Slideshow: Ecology against capitalism

Capitalism and the oceanic crisis: Turning the seas into a watery grave

By Brett Clark and Rebecca Clausen

The world ocean covers approximately 70 per cent of the Earth. It has been an integral part of human history, providing food and ecological services. Yet conservation efforts and concerns with environmental degradation have mostly focused on terrestrial issues. Marine scientists and oceanographers have recently made remarkable discoveries in regard to the intricacies of marine food webs and the richness of oceanic biodiversity. However, the excitement over these discoveries is dampened due to an awareness of the rapidly accelerating threat to the biological integrity of marine ecosystems.[1]

At the start of the twenty-first century marine scientists focused on the rapid depletion of marine fish, revealing that 75 per cent of major fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. It is estimated “that the global ocean has lost more than 90% of large predatory fishes”. The depletion of ocean fish stock due to overfishing has disrupted metabolic relations within the oceanic ecosystem at multiple trophic and spatial scales.[2]

If socialism fails: the spectre of 21st century barbarism

By Ian Angus

July 27, 2008 -- From the first day it appeared online, Climate and Capitalism’s masthead has carried the slogan “Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way.” We’ve been quite clear that ecosocialism is not a new theory or brand of socialism — it is socialism with Marx’s important insights on ecology restored, socialism committed to the fight against ecological destruction. But why do we say that the alternative to ecosocialism is barbarism?

Marxists have used the word “barbarism” in various ways, but most often to describe actions or social conditions that are grossly inhumane, brutal, and violent. It is not a word we use lightly, because it implies not just bad behaviour but violations of the most important norms of human solidarity and civilised life. [1]

The slogan “Socialism or Barbarism” originated with the great German revolutionary socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg, who repeatedly raised it during World War I. It was a profound concept, one that has become ever more relevant as the years have passed.

Ecology: The moment of truth—an introduction

By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York

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The July-August 2008 (Volume 60, Number 3) edition of the influential US socialist journal Monthly Review is a special issue on ``Ecology: The Moment of Truth”, edited by Brett Clark, John Bellamy Foster and Richard York. The issue is devoted to the planetary environmental emergency. It is essential reading for all socialists and environmentalists. With permission from Monthly Review, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal here posts the introduction by the editors, and urges Links' readers to purchase the issue and/or subscribe to Monthly Review.

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Are livable cities just a dream?

By Dave Holmes

When one sees a modern city from the air, especially at night, it is a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. What always strikes me is the immensity of the project, a testimony to the power and creativity of human beings. However, on the ground and actually living and working in this wonder, things are quite different and the social and ecological problems crowd in and fill one’s view. The truth is that our cities have always been dominated by the rich and powerful and built and operated to serve their needs — not those of the mass of working people who live and toil in them.

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This article is based on a talk presented at the Climate Change | Social Change Conference in Sydney, April 2008. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly. For more articles, audio and video from the conference, click here.

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Individual versus social solutions to global warming

By Terry Townsend

A talk to the Climate Change Social Change Conference held in Sydney from April 11 to 13, 2008, organised by Green Left Weekly. For more articles, audio and video from the conference, click here.

April 13, 2008 -- I’m sure everybody here is aware of the basic facts of global warming and the likely consequences if rapid and serious action is not taken. There is virtually unanimous agreement among scientists and activists, and increasingly among millions of ordinary people, about the degree of the problem and the time frame we have to make fundamental changes to address it.

Marxism and the environment -- John Bellamy Foster

Marxism and the environment was a workshop given by John Bellamy Foster to the Climate Change Social Change Conference, in Sydney on April 12, 2008. Foster is editor of Monthly Review (USA) and author of Marx's Ecology. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly. For more audio and video of John Bellamy Foster on related topics, go to http://links.org.au/node/343


Video: John Bellamy Foster on Capitalism and Climate Change

John Bellamy Foster, Marxist ecologist and editor of Monthly Review, addressed the Climate Change I Social Change Conference on ``Capitalism and Climate Change'', Sydney, April 11, 2008. Foster's talk was part of a panel discussing ``Climate change and its social roots''. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly. Below is Foster's talk in five parts. Click here for an audio recording of all the speakers on the panel, which included Patrick Bond from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and editor of Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society. John Bellamy Foster discusses Marxism and the environment further here.

 

A revolutionary response to the climate change crisis

``We need an emergency mobilisation of society, a five- or 10-year plan to achieve a drastic reorientation of our economy and use of energy. Anything else is simply not serious.''

April 3, 2008 -- Dave Holmes, a veteran leader of theAustralian Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), is one of the authors of the pamphlet Change the System Not The Climate (Resistance Books 2007) who will be participating in the Climate Change | Social Change Conference, April 11-13 in Sydney Australia. The other authors of the pamphlet, renowned Marxist John Bellamy Foster and Links editor Terry Townsend, are speakers at the conference.

Peter Boyle of the DSP spoke to Holmes about the key issues the conference needs to address.

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