John Bellamy Foster: Capitalism and the accumulation of catastrophe

Film produced by Jill Hickson and John Reynolds.

[For more material from the conference, click HERE.]

October 20, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- At the 2011 Climate Change Social Change Conference held in Melbourne, John Bellamy Foster, Marxist academic, editor and author on economics and ecology, was a featured speaker. Above is the video of his keynote speech on September 30.

The conference was sponsored by the Office of Environmental Programs, Melbourne University, and organised and co-sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Resistance, Socialist Alliance and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Other co-sponsors included Friends of the Earth (Melbourne), the Labor Party Pakistan and Sydney University Political Economy Society.

More than 360 people crowded into the Carrillo Gantner theatre at the University of Melbourne for the opening presentation by John Bellamy Foster. His talk was titled “Capitalism and the accumulation of catastrophe”.

Foster, editor of Monthly Review and co-author of What Every Environmentalist Needs to know about Capitalism. said that even as far back as the 19th century, scientists and ecologists were becoming aware of the damage being done to the environment by the expansion of industry and capitalism. These ideas were further developed by Marx and Engels in works such as Capital and Dialectics of Nature, showing that concerns about environmental destruction are far from new.

Foster then went on to plot the trajectory of capitalist expansion throughout the 20th century, showing that the technological innovations that developed along with global capital can lead only to an accelerated rate of environmental destruction on a scale previously unseen.

Foster said the environmental movement needed to challenge the capitalist economic system that is the root cause of global environmental destruction.