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The rhetoric of the other side: Ecosocialism or Barbarism

by Cassiodorus Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:10:47 AM EST

This is a rhetorical critique of the anthology Ecosocialism or Barbarism, edited by Jane Kelly and Sheila Malone, an introductory text in ecosocialist thought apparently meant for European audiences.  In it, I suggest that its main problem is that it skimps upon the presentation needed to anticipate objections to its main arguments, and so I suggest amendments here.

Promoted by Migeru


Eco-capitalism is the intellectual rage today.  Time magazine has a piece on its April 28, 2008 cover titled "How to Win The War On Global Warming," which recommends "a national cap-and-trade system with teeth coupled with tougher energy-efficiency mandates and significant new public and private investment in green technology" (57) as the primary solution, in an article aimed largely at investor-class audiences.  Stuart L. Hart's Capitalism at the Crossroads, published in second edition last year by Wharton School Publishing and with a foreword by Al Gore, promises in its subtitle to be "aligning business, earth, and humanity."

To a certain extent this intellectual vogue is the byproduct of government inattention.  America comes off of seven-plus years of a Presidency basically in global warming denial, and its current crop of Presidential candidates appear to be somewhat easily manipulated by the coal industry, a financial entity which ought not to exist at this point, given the seriousness of the trajectory ahead.  For instance, all of the politicians are talking about "carbon caps," meaning enforced conservation of fossil-fuel energy of some sort, and of "alternative energy," as a "solution" to the problem of global warming.  However, practically nobody in the US is talking about capping the oil and natural gas wells, or even of abandoning the coal mines (though a daring soul such as Bill McKibben mentioned it in public when I asked him).  So eco-capitalism can be seen as the byproduct of the government's withdrawal from its role as protector of the environment; people are looking to big business in its absence.

Now, there are alternatives to the "eco-capitalist" intellectual vogue, alternatives that seriously address the environmental situation facing us in 2008.  Evo Morales of Bolivia hints at these alternatives of recent: "Eliminate capitalism to save the planet," he opines.  One of these calls itself "ecosocialism" - yet there really isn't a whole lot in terms of an explicitly ecosocialist political movement.  Sure, there are plenty of ecosocialist writings, but what I can find of movement ecosocialism seems largely encapsulated in a group called "Socialist Resistance."  (In this review I am NOT going to get involved in their actual political struggles -- teach me about it in the comments section.)

They put out a volume, Ecosocialism or Barbarism, which is, largely, a collaborative text introducing the main ideas of ecosocialism, and this is my review of it.

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This anthology has as its purpose to "stimulate a social ecology that can unite and enrich both `reds' and `greens'" (x).  This may be a valid goal for European politics; I don't know.  I have my doubts about its efficacy in the American context.  Maybe an American introduction to ecosocialism (Joel Kovel's The Enemy of Nature comes to mind, only not so academic or expensive) would address itself to a general audience.  Perhaps an ecosocialist movement would develop more readily from the ranks of the uncommitted public rather than by starting with those who have adopted a political position in the American context.  It would then be free of the stultifying "orthodox Marxism" of the far left in this country, as well as of the "green capitalism" of the Green Party's orthodoxy.

A couple of the articles in this volume are reprints of journal pieces which offer basic understandings of what ecosocialism is about.  John Bellamy Foster's "Organizing Ecological Revolution" is here, as well as Michael Lowy's "What Is Ecosocialism?" and the Ecosocialist Manifesto.  Ecosocialism, to answer Lowy's question, proposes socialism as an organizational prerequisite to working solutions to environmental crisis.  What is "socialism" for the ecosocialists?  Phil Ward has a piece called "Global warming, capitalism, and our future" in which a series of bullet-point demands are made (37-38).  These include things such as "curtailing of activities not essential to human well-being, such as the advertising, sales, arms, and many other industries."  Essentially, ecosocialism is the provisioning of an economy so that essential needs for all come first, for the sake of more extensive reductions in fossil-fuel consumption than would otherwise be possible.  The most meaningful description I've found is in a book by Saral Sarkar titled "Eco-socialism or eco-capitalism?"  There is an essay at the end of Ecosocialism or Barbarism titled "Savage Capitalism - the Ecosocialist Alternative," which lays out a summary of the degraded state of the capitalist system at present, and ends with a list of demands.

The articles are what we might expect for a politically-inclined ecosocialist agenda.  Here it is in a nutshell.  Capitalism is on a collision course with the Earth's capacity to sustain life; the existing society cannot be reformed or regulated so that it will "behave"; thus socialist revolution will be necessary to bring society into conformance with ecosystem stability.  Much of the book, taking its cue from John Bellamy Foster's writings for the Monthly Review, deals with global warming, which has attained the status of white-hot controversy in the UK.  Over there, global warming is well-accepted as a phenomenon and the mainstream controversy is over what to do about it.  It would be nice if we could discuss global warming here in the States like they do in the UK.

  The arguments for ecosocialism made in this book are reasonable as it is made here.  However, I'm a bit uncomfortable with how well they are defended.  If we are to incite dialogues that go beyond "preaching to the choir," we ought to start by anticipating objections to our proposals.  By skimping on this sort of argument, in favor of "what ecosocialism is and why we like it," Ecosocialism or Barbarism is a less effective book than it otherwise could be.  One admires books such as Mike Cole's Marxism and Educational Theory because they do attempt to anticipate objections.  In that book, Cole argues for a rather direct version of Marxist pedagogy (one which I can't quite defend myself); his defense of Marxism as such, however, addressed standard objections.  So, in the spirit of constructive suggestion, here I'd like to suggest a short list of objections to ecosocialism, complete with responses:

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Objection #1: We will want to preserve capitalism because of its productive efficiency.  The problem with capitalist production is not efficiency, but rather ecology.  Capitalist production is "efficient" when you disregard the convenience it has made of planet Earth.  It gets the lion's share of Earth's "natural resources"; it gets to "externalize" its pollutants after a minor degree of scrubbing.  If capitalist production really had to be careful with what it uses of its Earthly endowment, we'd regard it as quite wasteful.

Objection #2: Capitalism is the best system for consumer demand.  The problem with this argument is that capitalist production addresses only "effective" demand, demand backed by money.  Production for "effective" demand will work well as long as the consumers have money; in an economy where most of the public is losing its place in the money system, which is what we have now, we run the risk of mass dispossession.  The capitalist system will then be producing large quantities of consumer items which nobody will be able to afford.  Such a situation would hardly qualify capitalism as the best system for consumer demand.

Objection #3: Socialism was discredited by the Soviet experiment.  The Soviet experiment was an experiment in the building of what Kees van der Pijl calls a "contender state" - a rival to capitalism in the competition for capitalist development.  In this regard, it would help to look at capitalism as bound together with what van der Pijl calls "capitalist discipline" - which is our work habits and everything we do in order to make ourselves into hirable workers.  "Capitalist discipline," then, is the glue that keeps the capitalist machine together, that fits all of the parts into place.  It keeps the trucks on the road, it keeps the airplanes flying in the air, it keeps production going, it keeps the distribution networks running, and so on.  

The Soviet Union, then, tried to accomplish "Communism" using capitalist discipline.  Ecosocialism, on the other hand, will require ecological discipline - the discipline necessary to maintain ecosystem resilience, or ecosystem stability (in a greater sense).  We can see ecological discipline in what Joan Martinez-Alier calls "the environmentalism of the poor," in a book which is praised in Michael Lowy's essay at the beginning of Ecosocialism or Barbarism.

Objection #4: There is no existing ecosocialist movement.  But there are plenty of movements which could be ecosocialist, if they were only to take the next step and to recognize, more deeply, what it took to be ecosocialist.

Objection #5: The elites will destroy the world rather than give up their privileges.  Indeed, this is what the capitalist system which serves them so well is doing to the world right now.  Abrupt climate change will create a world in which billions of people (that's right, billions) will have no place to go.  Florida will be under water with the rise of ocean levels as such.  After the icecaps of the Himalayas melt away, half of China will be without water.  That's not going to look pretty.  The question at hand is one of whether the rest of the world will allow said elites to get away with total global eco-destruction.  From Paul Prew's "The 21st Century World Ecosystem":

The question to be asked, really, is whether we proceed with capitalism until we reach an ecological bifurcation point that leaves the habitability of the earth in question for the vast majority of the population, or we reach a social bifurcation point that leads us to a social system of production that is dissipative, nonetheless, but does not threaten the flowing balance of nature.

Objection #6: There will be no working class revolution.  According to this reasoning, the multitudes are too interested in class compromise (i.e. better hours, better wages) and will not attempt to overwhelm the system with demands for ecosocialism.  Or, according to another line of thought, the multitudes are too interested in patriotism, and will not provide the necessary global unity for a working class revolution.  The first objection will be answered when abrupt climate change really starts to kick in.  Will people just hide from the oncoming disaster, or will they take the proactive role that Ecosocialism or Barbarism says they need to have?  

The second objection is not a matter of patriotism, but of the role currently provided by the state.  In the past, warfare between states was a means of maintaining a class of people which benefitted from it.  The capitalist class benefitted from warfare, and from the total economic motivation that the warfare state brought.  Even before capitalism, under feudalism, a knightly class made its living off of warfare and off of the looting that accompanied it.  In the future, however, the state will have to change its character, to keep any future "warfare class" out of power.

Kees van der Pijl's most recent book, Nomads, Empires, States, describes world-society as regressing into a sort of tribalism.  In an ecosocialist future, all "tribes" which develop as such will have autonomy within a decentralized, locally-controlled matrix which encompasses the entire globe.  Such a tribalist future will not be incompatible with global ecosocialism.

Objection #7: Revolution will only install a new, oppressive ruling class.

Ecosocialism will attempt to circumvent the problem of new, oppressive ruling classes through economic democracy - decentralizing power, and putting power over economic systems into the hands of people within a democratic framework.  This will probably mean democratic control over the money system, so that capital can be redirected to ecosystemically meaningful ends.  There will be no abolition of personal property - but the means of production, as capitalism has shown, are too dangerous to leave in the hands of acquisitive oligarchies.

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Finally, I think that two major tactical improvements to the standard "socialist" and "green" agenda are in order:

Tactic #1: Examine economic decisions as political decisions.

Our capitalist "democracy" does not serve us because most of the real decisions have been taken out of its hands and placed in the hands of a very few powerful economic actors.  In light of the "private" (i.e. oligarchic) control of the economy as such, "democratic" government has been reduced to the role of economic guarantor, to make sure that the economic oligarchy functions "efficiently" at whatever role it chooses to function at, which (for the most part) means keeping the rich swaddled in profits.

We can deconstruct capitalist "democracy" as such if we look at economic decisions as political decisions.  If the main political actors are viewed not as Clinton, Obama, and McCain, but rather Exxon, Monsanto, and Halliburton (and the rest of the Fortune 500), then we will be on the way to a clearer picture of what is going on.

Tactic #2: Go after producers, not consumers.

Heather Rogers makes this argument very effectively in her history of trash titled Gone Tomorrow.  Why regulate individual littering, Rogers argued, when the real culprits are the product manufacturers who are creating the disposable cartons, bottles, newspapers etc. that become trash.  Go after the producers of trash, she argued, rather than pick on the multitudes of litterers.

I would suggest, here, that we attack the problem of abrupt climate change in much the same fashion.  Rather than blame the individual consumers for burning fossil fuels, go after the producers of the fossil fuels; shut down their oil wells and natural gas wells and coal mines.  That will, in turn, force society to adapt to the post-carbon future.

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That's how I'd argue ecosocialism, at any rate.

Display:


"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon
by Cassiodorus on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 11:44:48 AM EST
I still don't know what ecosocialism would look like. You diary seems to be incomprehensible without actually going and reading the books you refer to.

Nor do I know why or how a world that has "regressed" to a "tribal matrix" wouldn't be just as likely as today's to have militaries and wars.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 12:38:11 PM EST
I still don't know what ecosocialism would look like. You diary seems to be incomprehensible without actually going and reading the books you refer to.

I don't know what ecosocialism would look like, either, since it has yet to be created.  And if you think my diary is incomprehensible, would you be willing to make constructive suggestions about which gaps I need to fill in?

Nor do I know why or how a world that has "regressed" to a "tribal matrix" wouldn't be just as likely as today's to have militaries and wars.

Because fighting over what little is left will speed us along to our eventual deaths, whereas co-operation might mean survival?  Nothing is assured, of course...

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 01:20:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This seems to be key:
Essentially, ecosocialism is the provisioning of an economy so that essential needs for all come first, for the sake of more extensive reductions in fossil-fuel consumption than would otherwise be possible.

Who determines those needs, and how?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 01:25:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Essentially, ecosocialism is the provisioning of an economy so that essential needs for all come first, for the sake of more extensive reductions in fossil-fuel consumption than would otherwise be possible.

They would be determined democratically, in accordance with the prescription of economic democracy.  It doesn't take a lot of imagination.  Food, clothing, shelter, water.  The ecosystemic pressure upon communities will be to subtract needs as things become progressively more impossible to get.  We will be living in a state of emergency, under an imperative of ecological triage.

Now, it can't just be that that you're concerned with, if you thought the diary was "incomprehensible."  What else do I need to change?

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 03:29:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Define "democratically" and "economic democracy" for me? Like many of the terms used, they're pretty vague.

Now, it can't just be that that you're concerned with, if you thought the diary was "incomprehensible."  What else do I need to change?

If I can get a handle on the core of it I might be able to answer that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 02:00:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When General Motors decides to put a plant to build cars in Ciudad Juarez (in Chihuahua in Mexico), or when Nike decides to install a shoe factory in Vietnam, does this happen as a result of any sort of local, popular vote (or consensus) to build cars or shoes that takes place in those places?  Are the citizens of Ciudad Juarez or Vietnam capable of installing and operating such factories, for their municipalities, by themselves?

No.

Our global capitalist system has placed major decisions about production in the hands of an oligarchy of capitalists within a competitive system.  Such a framework will be inappropriate to the drastic cuts in fossil-fuel use which will be necessary to stabilize global climate.

A better framework would be economic democracy, in which major economic decisions about which technologies to use and which businesses to deploy are made by and for local communities, in a democratic context (i.e. after democratic deliberation, and with a democratic vote) who stand either to benefit or lose from their decisions per se.  The only way we'll develop habits of responsibility for abrupt climate change is if we're placed directly in charge of managing it.  Otherwise it's the old alibi of "what can one person do?"

Thanks for asking.  Does that help any?

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 10:16:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does that help at all? If the local people are concerned about their immediate short term concerns will they be bothered about long-term consequences? Do they care about CO2 emissions? About risks to water down-stream of their community? How easily can they be bribed or pressured?  
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 10:27:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does that help at all? If the local people are concerned about their immediate short term concerns will they be bothered about long-term consequences? Do they care about CO2 emissions? About risks to water down-stream of their community? How easily can they be bribed or pressured?

Valid questions all.

To create a real, global economic democracy, you'd have to put economic decision-making power in the hands of local people themselves, everywhere.  This would mean, first of all, granting them control over the issuance and use of their currency, and secondly, putting them collectively in charge of the means of production.  Once they have that, what kind of bribe or pressure would dislodge them from tasks of ecosystem co-existence?

Societies in the capitalist past were concerned with "progress," the ultimate triumph of science and technology in increasing the productivity of human labor to bring technological utopia into being.  The scientific paradigm that was to bring "progress" into being was based on mechanics, as the various sciences were created to fine-tune the economic and physical machines of world society, to make them ever-more-efficient producers of the dreamed-of technological utopia.

The ultimate result of this trend will be the ecological dystopia described, in part, by Mark Lynas in Six Degrees, in which climatic disruption is completely out of control, eventually leading to the breakdown of civilization and the release of the methane hydrates from beneath the ocean floors.  The "Communist" societies were no different in this regard.

Future societies will have to concern themselves with "survival," both individual and global, or risk its opposite, death.  Material conditions will bring this concern into being, as capitalism can be expected to bring everything to the brink of disaster.  A subordination of all of society's "machines," both human and inorganic, to the ecological requirements of survival will be needed by all societies.  The scientific paradigm of said future societies will be based on thermodynamics, as humanity will be coping with the ecological consequences of capitalist entropy for some centuries to come.  Relations between human beings will have to re-adapt to thermodynamic circumstances, as the entropic consequences of economic competition will have to be phased out.

Btw, I know this has become standard usage, but "CO2 emissions" is a poor descriptor of what is causing abrupt climate change.  People have been "emitting CO2" since they came out of the genetic stock, yet only with the current, massive scale of burning Earth's fossil-fuel endowment, combined with the wanton destruction of Earth's forests, its lungs, has it come to where we are now.

The point in discussing economic democracy in this context is to suggest systems in which people, at the local level (the level at which ecosystem impacts are felt), can be empowered to adapt human society to the preservation of ecosystem resilience.  In this regard, economic democracy, though imperfect, would be better than economic oligarchy, which (at this present date) seeks to shield the investor class from the ecosystem consequences of its actions.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:22:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's late and I'm fading here, so I'm just going to pick at one point right now:

The point in discussing economic democracy in this context is to suggest systems in which people, at the local level (the level at which ecosystem impacts are felt), can be empowered to adapt human society to the preservation of ecosystem resilience

The whole problem at the moment is precisely that local acts are having global consequences.

I don't believe that local action is sufficient (if that's what you're suggesting): we need an appropriate "hierarchy" of decision making. And by hierarchy I don't really mean hierarchy. Hierarchy of networks or something.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 12:37:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you're saying that people won't want electricity, won't want goods to trade with others for stuff they want? Let's say some community decides, yes we want to strip mine our coal and use it for a nice new and shiny CO2 emitting power plant. What then? How about if they decide that they need that water for irrigation, and screw the downstream communities?  

How on earth do we transition to the magical utopia where the New Ecological Man understands and internalizes his long term interests? What happens during that transition period when local communities still have that old understanding of progress?

by MarekNYC on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 01:37:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you're saying that people won't want electricity

If electricity is necessary to survival, yes, they'll want it.

won't want goods to trade with others for stuff they want?

There will still be "trade," but it will be oriented toward achieving the means of subsistence rather than the accumulation of capital.  See Maria Mies' and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen's The Subsistence Perspective for further elaboration.

Let's say some community decides, yes we want to strip mine our coal and use it for a nice new and shiny CO2 emitting power plant.

How likely is this scenario?  You're going to have a community which lives in an area, which is planning to ruin that area's ecosystem for the sake of extracting coal, and which will have neither coal nor livable land once the coal runs out?  Who's going to vote for that?

How about if they decide that they need that water for irrigation, and screw the downstream communities?

There will still be a United Nations to adjudicate disagreements between communities.

How on earth do we transition to the magical utopia where the New Ecological Man understands and internalizes his long term interests?

What is the point of this sarcastic little dig?  Figure it out yourself, if you even care.

What happens during that transition period when local communities still have that old understanding of progress?

Are communities in power now?

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 02:17:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If electricity is necessary to survival, yes, they'll want it.

If?

There will still be "trade," but it will be oriented toward achieving the means of subsistence rather than the accumulation of capital.

Doesn't answer the question of who has the electronics factories, vehicle ones, the universities, the power plants, the rail plant manufacturing, the pharma, etc.

How likely is this scenario?  You're going to have a community which lives in an area, which is planning to ruin that area's ecosystem for the sake of extracting coal, and which will have neither coal nor livable land once the coal runs out?  Who's going to vote for that?

LOL. I guess you haven't ever spent any time in a mining community. It lasts a long time, it's a culture, and a lifestyle.  A century down the road your great great grandkids can worry or move.

What is the point of this sarcastic little dig?  Figure it out yourself, if you even care.

That you're presuming a socio-cultural mindset which doesn't exist and which I imagine even you don't think will come into being overnight. In the meantime those mining and logging and other communities will vote for what they want - more of the same. So that means you either accept that or you establish a centralized coercive apparatus. I'm curious whether you opt for the environmentally harmful but non coercive option, or the existence of a central government with the power of coercion.

Are communities in power now?

Nope, but I don't want them to be. Local interests need to be balanced against broader ones. That's why multiple levels of government are a good idea.

by MarekNYC on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 02:37:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL. I guess you haven't ever spent any time in a mining community.

Mining communities are not autonomous.  It may "be a culture," but it's a culture dependent upon a money system which comes to it from outside.

That you're presuming a socio-cultural mindset which doesn't exist

Wrong.  There clearly exist groups which Joan Martinez-Alier counts among the "environmentalism of the poor" -- the movement for community revitalization, the environmental justice movement, the rural peasantry, and so on, all of which are potentially open to a world society existing along such lines.

So that means you either accept that or you establish a centralized coercive apparatus.

You mean like the centralized coercive apparatus of Wall Street, in the city (NYC) that is part of your nom de plume?  Sorry, that already exists.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 02:56:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mining communities are not autonomous.  It may "be a culture," but it's a culture dependent upon a money system which comes to it from outside.

Of course they're not autonomous, nor is anyone else, so what's the point?

Wrong.  There clearly exist groups which Joan Martinez-Alier counts among the "environmentalism of the poor" -- the movement for community revitalization, the environmental justice movement, the rural peasantry, and so on, all of which are potentially open to a world society existing along such lines.

Really? If you look at successful progressive movements they all include at their basis a higher standard of living for the majority of society with that being defined in the traditional way.

You mean like the centralized coercive apparatus of Wall Street, in the city (NYC) that is part of your nom de plume?  Sorry, that already exists.

Actually rather decentralized. And if you're suggesting that the desire for increased standard of living is the result of coercion you're mostly wrong. The coercion that that shift required has already run its course in most of the world.  The level of violence and coercion required to reverse it would be similar to the sum total of that exercized by capitalism and communism over the past two centuries. Add that to the chaos and suffering caused by climate change and resource depletion and even if I found your end stage utopia attractive, rather than some sort of nightmarish dystopia, it still would be crazy to try to implement under the present circumstances.

by MarekNYC on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 03:20:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Really? If you look at successful progressive movements

Did I say I was a "progressive"?

And what's a "successful progressive movement"?  The "progressives" have done rather less than nothing to stop neoliberalism.

Actually rather decentralized.

In the US you have a wealthiest 1% which owns half of all non-home capital assets.  You have Washington DC printing its money and Wall Street trading the Fortune 500's assets.  Globally you have the World Economic Forum, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the WTO, the IMF/World Bank, a few hundred billionaires which own as much as the bottom half of humanity, and so on.

Sorry, power in the US and in today's world is centralized, far more so than what I'm proposing.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 03:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course they're not autonomous, nor is anyone else, so what's the point?

In the wake of the coming ecosystem crises, people will want more autonomy, not less.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 04:05:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're wrong on that. If there is any risk at all of societal collapse people will become more interdependent, not less.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:42:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and by the way, you may wish at some point to rethink the notion that a world society dedicated to survival constitutes a "magical utopia."  

Yeah, some fantasyland in which I actually get to live.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 02:39:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To create a real, global economic democracy, you'd have to put economic decision-making power in the hands of local people themselves, everywhere.  This would mean, first of all, granting them control over the issuance and use of their currency, and secondly, putting them collectively in charge of the means of production.  Once they have that, what kind of bribe or pressure would dislodge them from tasks of ecosystem co-existence?
How do you ensure it stays that way? That is, is the system stable against a local community reverting to a capitalist political economy and infecting the rest?
Societies in the capitalist past were concerned with "progress," the ultimate triumph of science and technology in increasing the productivity of human labor to bring technological utopia into being.  The scientific paradigm that was to bring "progress" into being was based on mechanics, as the various sciences were created to fine-tune the economic and physical machines of world society, to make them ever-more-efficient producers of the dreamed-of technological utopia.
It is rather sad that out of the Enlightenment idea of "progress" have come both capitalism and communism, whose practical realisations in the 20th have both proven totally ecologically unsustainable.
The ultimate result of this trend will be the ecological dystopia described, in part, by Mark Lynas in Six Degrees, in which climatic disruption is completely out of control, eventually leading to the breakdown of civilization and the release of the methane hydrates from beneath the ocean floors.  The "Communist" societies were no different in this regard.


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An assembly democracy, in current times and levels of civilization?
I think it is not possible now.
by PerCLupi on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 12:24:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, it can't just be that that you're concerned with, if you thought the diary was "incomprehensible."  What else do I need to change?
Colman's objection is that "ecosocialism" is an undefined term, the explanation of which is presumably contained in the books you refer to, unless this
Here it is in a nutshell.  Capitalism is on a collision course with the Earth's capacity to sustain life; the existing society cannot be reformed or regulated so that it will "behave"; thus socialist revolution will be necessary to bring society into conformance with ecosystem stability.
qualifies as a statement of what ecosocialism means.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:44:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is necessary to rethink the new progressive foundations of the current society for the future.
But I doubt that the ecological problem by itself has sufficient strength to mobilize people.
The ecological problem is only one aspect of the new progressive social conception.
by PerCLupi on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 12:34:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your objection to the Soviet Union boils down to the idea that it can't be considered a failure of socialism because it was a variant of  Marxism, and Marxism is not real socialism in any form.

Your objection to capitalism has three parts, one is standard issue crude Marxism. The other is that it fails to take into account environmental externalities (a purely political and regulatory issue that can easily be done within the capitalist framework). The third is that it shares all the faults of Marxism.

Isn't there something a bit strange in so utterly rejecting Marx's vision while embracing his critique? Colman has mentioned that there is something a bit vague about all this, but given the approach I don't see how it can possible be anything other than incoherent even if fleshed out.

Finally, like all expressions of radical environmentalism that I have ever seen, this one marries a radical environmental agenda with a radical sociopolitical one. Yes, I understand that for their proponents you can't have one without the other. Somehow it seems to have escaped them that all it does is make change even more unpalatable and more painful and difficult to implement; adding the massive upheaval of socio-political revolution to the wrenching changes required by the environmental constraints means all the more resistance and suffering.  Given that, the fact that you've already taken the first big step down the Leninist path in point six doesn't bode well.

by MarekNYC on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 04:02:14 PM EST
Your objection to the Soviet Union boils down to the idea that it can't be considered a failure of socialism because it was a variant of  Marxism, and Marxism is not real socialism in any form.

Don't know what you mean by "Marxism" here.  It's hard for me to describe the Soviet Union as a "variant of Marxism" when I know that Marx predicted the rise of socialism "in the most advanced nations," and Russia ca. 1917 was hardly one of those.  Marx also had nothing to do with the "socialism in one nation" doctrine of Joseph Stalin.

Isn't there something a bit strange in so utterly rejecting Marx's vision while embracing his critique?

Was Marx supposed to have predicted global warming?  And is the labor theory of value supposed to lead automatically to Marx's endorsement of industrialism?

If you want to find it in Holy Writ, look up those passages in Engels' Dialectics of Nature where he suggests ending the division between countryside and city, because that's where all of this is leading.  

given the approach I don't see how it can possible be anything other than incoherent even if fleshed out.

I don't see how any constructive critique can be made out of your response.  You might try suggesting that I do something different.

Finally, like all expressions of radical environmentalism that I have ever seen, this one marries a radical environmental agenda with a radical sociopolitical one. Yes, I understand that for their proponents you can't have one without the other. Somehow it seems to have escaped them that all it does is make change even more unpalatable and more painful and difficult to implement; adding the massive upheaval of socio-political revolution to the wrenching changes required by the environmental constraints means all the more resistance and suffering.

Are you suggesting that world society shouldn't change its bad environmental behaviors?  Social change will be necessary to adapt to ecosystem change.

Given that, the fact that you've already taken the first big step down the Leninist path in point six doesn't bode well.

I really don't understand how anything I said is "Leninist" in any way, least of all in the doctrine of "democratic centralism" being repudiated here.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Wed Apr 23rd, 2008 at 05:05:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't know what you mean by "Marxism" here.  It's hard for me to describe the Soviet Union as a "variant of Marxism" when I know that Marx predicted the rise of socialism "in the most advanced nations," and Russia ca. 1917 was hardly one of those.  Marx also had nothing to do with the "socialism in one nation" doctrine of Joseph Stalin.

Sort of like you've never had a full blown picture perfect Chicago school neoliberal 'reform', doesn't mean that we can't speak of the real world implementation of that philosophy. Nor does it mean that the Soviet Union was the only possible form of implementing a Marxist inspired system. But to deny that it was an example of that is absurd.

Was Marx supposed to have predicted global warming?  And is the labor theory of value supposed to lead automatically to Marx's endorsement of industrialism?
If you want to find it in Holy Writ, look up those passages in Engels' Dialectics of Nature where he suggests ending the division between countryside and city, because that's where all of this is leading.

I haven't read that Engels piece and I'll take a look. I have read plenty of Marx and it isn't a question of not predicting global warming, again that's just a constraint on any system. It's more his conception of what Progress means - i.e. more and better stuff, better working conditions with more leisure, and the destruction of traditional cultures and means of production and their replacement by a homegenizing and  homegenous system - first capitalism for the bulk of the dirty work of destruction, then socialism.  He also didn't have much love for rural lifestyles. Marx was a  brilliant thinker but also a creature of his time and you can no more take out that notion of progress from Marxism and have anything coherent remmain than you can from the ideology of liberalism (using it in the non American sense).

Are you suggesting that world society shouldn't change its bad environmental behaviors?  Social change will be necessary to adapt to ecosystem change.

No, I am saying that attempting to achieve both radical socio-economic change and adapting to new environmental constraints is more difficult than doing one or the other and the radical green attempt to link the two would make both less likely to happen.

I really don't understand how anything I said is "Leninist" in any way, least of all in the doctrine of "democratic centralism" being repudiated here.

It has to do with your view that the working class' desire for higher income and less hours constitutes a false consciousness and that they will eventually 'understand' that instead they should want revolution. That was the Bolsheviks' first step down the path to deciding that the working class, and the population in general, has to be repressed in their own interest. Of course you're not there yet but what happens if people consistently vote against what you want - you've already decided that it's a sham democracy... What's the next step?

by MarekNYC on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 01:30:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nor does it mean that the Soviet Union was the only possible form of implementing a Marxist inspired system. But to deny that it was an example of that is absurd.

You suggested that I was against the Soviet Union because  it was a "variant of Marxism."  Actually, I don't care much for "Marxism," here and now, because in this world it is largely the doctrinal property of "Marxists" (quoth Marx: "I am not a Marxist.")  Sure, the Soviet Union was a "Marxist inspired system."  Tony Cliff thought it constituted "state capitalism."  Indeed, many "Marxists" are "Marxist inspired thinkers."  Far too many of them are doctrinaire, sectarian, self-imagined foot soldiers incapable of open, freethinking dialogue, and hung up on some defense of history which has since lost its relevance.  Their potential for social change verges on zero.

I hope that says something to you about where I stand.  Btw, I do own a paper copy of the entire Marx-Engels Collected Works.

NB: The Chicago School was actually in charge of a government -- post-1973 Chile under Augusto Pinochet.  The pure application of its principles actually happened.  It was such a disaster that Pinochet himself reversed course in the early 1980s.  So to talk about how "you've never had a full blown picture perfect Chicago school neoliberal 'reform'" is a bit off the mark.

It has to do with your view that the working class' desire for higher income and less hours constitutes a false consciousness and that they will eventually 'understand' that instead they should want revolution.

You are importing the concept of "false consciousness" into your reading of what I've said.  Try to address what I actually said, rather than what you imagine it to be.  I see no point in suggesting that "consciousness" is something we ought to reduce to logical postulates of "truth" or "falsehood."  

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 03:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has to do with your view that the working class' desire for higher income and less hours constitutes a false consciousness and that they will eventually 'understand' that instead they should want revolution.

The desire for "higher income" is rightly understood as a desire for a greater share of the economic pie.  Of course, with the ecosystemic undertow (increasing shortages; climate change; decreasing economic and political stability) shrinking the total size of the economic pie, the mere desire for a greater share of the economic pie will only lead to smaller incomes unless we change the way in which the economic pie is produced.  

Reformism will not do this to the extent need to avert ecosystem disaster.

"Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

by Cassiodorus on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 04:11:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is currently an overlay of Finance Capital on the "Productive" economy.

And by "productive" I do not simply mean individuals and their "Labour" but productive assets ie property of all types.

The assumption underpinning most Economics that only Labour creates value is entirely wrong IMHO. It leads to the mad conclusion that when a factory is automated the sole remaining person who switches it on and off is almost infinitely "productive".

I digress.

Finance Capital comes in two types: Credit (= time to pay), and Investment.

We are currently accustomed to Credit cretaed by credit intermediaries (aka Banks) ie Debt, and "Equity" consisting of shares in a Joint Stock Limited Liability Corporation (the "Corporation").

I am pointing out that neither of these is necessary in the "Peer to Peer" world enabled by the Internet.

In the former case, Credit may be made available simply by sellers and buyers coming together within a "Guarantee Society" framework. They mutually guarantee credit extended from Seller to Buyer, backing it with payments into a "Default Fund" held by a custodian, rather than a proprietary default fund consisting of a Bank's "regulatory capital".

In the case of "Investment" legal entities such as the UK LLP and US LLC allow investment simply by sharing and "unitising" production and/or revenues within a consensual framework agreement linking the stakeholders.

The outcome would be a decentralised and networked non-hierarchical economy consisting of a "partnership of partnerships" or "cooperative of cooperatives".

In this "social market" model there is no Profit and no Loss and no "Rentiers". Moreover, we would see the "Abolition of Labour" as envisaged by Marx in his early work (although he later considered that the nature of industrial Capital rendered it impossible) since Labour works with not for Capital and shares production.

Also the "Abolition of Property" and the "Abolition of the State" - which Marx considered flowed from the Abolition of Labour - is implicit in the use of a "framework" (rather than an organisation) to encapsulate the property relationship. A networked  "participative" State in which all citizens are members would also abolish the Jacobin State as we know it.

Such a model I regard as an "asset-based" economy rather than a "deficit-based" economy.

Your earlier Money Diary was based upon the (mistaken, IMHO) premise that Money is Credit. In fact, wherever value (="Money's Worth") is exchanged with "time to pay" the result is "Money". Examples are the - hugely successful and pervasive - Swiss WIR business to business currency and other proprietary barter systems with inbuilt credit, such as Bartercard.

Credit need not, and indeed IMHO should not be used as Money. Instead, fungible units of Value - based on land use over time, energy use over time, and labour use over time - may emerge as "currencies", but they will not be "Money" per se and will circulate in a "Clearing Union" (as envisaged by Keynes, but implemented "bottom up", rather than "top down") backed by a mutual guarantee.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 05:41:54 AM EST
Side question you've probably answered already: why wouldn't your peer-to-peer economy be more unstable than the version we have?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 05:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The instability derives from the "positive feedback" inherent in compound interest acting on the deficit-based money supply. This is mathematically unsustainable and must break down either in resource wars, depression, or both.

It is the "asset basis" that solves this along with the collaborative nature of partnership agreements which make it for "profitable" to collaborate than to compete.

A peer to peer economy would change organically and dynamically, but that need not mean "instability".

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 05:49:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A peer to peer economy would change organically and dynamically, but that need not mean "instability".

Does it necessarily mean stability?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 05:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it is truly self-organizing it may be just as unstable.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:33:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The future I see is not "open" self organisation. That is anarchy, and I don't think it scales.

I see networked self organisation within consensually agreed  frameworks and to agreed common purposes.  

I believe that there will be a tendency towards equilibrium - rather than towards instability - if the feedback is negative, rather than positive.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 10:03:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The old example of the change in phase states: water is solid when frozen, gravitational (equilibrious) when liquid, and chaotic when steam. Each of these phase states is self-organizing in reaction to outside input i.e. temperature. And thus the simple relationship between the atoms is modified.

If we are thinking fancifully about (self) organizations of people, then there has to be a simple relationship between the units, but that those relationships can be phase modified from outside.

What one is looking for 'in business', is organizations that are neither frozen nor chaotic. The liquid state is the ideal, with the most innovation happening generally towards the cusp between liquid and chaotic. How to stop any organization from going into full blown chaos is really the problem.

But as Nokia has proved, self-organization (and multi-angled approaches to problem solving) allows the organization to be very flexible, adaptive and robust. When a couple of birds are shot out of the flock, or a marlin grabs a few sardines in the shoal, the system slightly changes, but retains its integrity. It is by partly (mostly) abandoning hierarchical top-down decision making, that Nokia has prospered.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 11:16:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The old example of the change in phase states: water is solid when frozen, gravitational (equilibrious) when liquid, and chaotic when steam.
Except that when it is steam it closely follows the law of ideal gases and is, therefore, a rather simple system with no structure.

If you want chaos and structure you have to look at the critical point.

At the critical point, the scattering is so intense that the system becomes opaque. This phenomenon is called critical opalescence. The domains demonstrate some interesting properties, such as fractal shapes, and there is a peak in the heat capacity. This critical transition temperature is a maximum with respect to the composition. Thus it can be determined by interpolating transition temperatures from known compositions.
Interesting stuff happens not deep in the phases, but on the phase boundaries.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 11:26:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I pointed out.

Innovation happens near the cusp or critical point or phase state change.

But the tendency of many whole systems, of many kinds, is motion toward homeostasis, even if elements within are chaotic. Supply meets demand, boy meets girl, oxygen meets fire, wasps meet aphids and a fired cannonball meets the earth. They both need each other - and in meeting become equilibrium.

That's why we need unbalanced people. You can't be a genius unless something's missing ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 11:49:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting collection of metaphors - I'm not sure I can make use of it.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 01:42:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are not metaphors, they are examples of of systems that tend to homeostasis. Admittedly it is not a mainstream view to consider boys meeting girls as tending to homeostasis. But a supply and demand system surely does. And when a cannonball falls to earth, is that not tending to homeostasis?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 02:17:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely the cannonball isn't an example of homeostasis, as it isn't trying to bring its internal systems to balance? Falling to ground and ending up in a steady state is unconnected.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 02:21:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just the cannonball, of course. You have to think of the whole system - incuding gravitation. The cannonball's 'internal' systems are unconnected yes, but you are looking at the discrete object, not the system as a whole.

Can supply exist without demand?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 02:35:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, in your gravitational analogy you're wrong. (Classical) gravitational can convert an infinite amount of gravitational energy into kinetic energy and so have a negative heat capacity which makes them unstable.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 04:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So kissing, for you, is basically a delivery system for mononucleosis?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 09:50:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Herpes simplex too.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 10:19:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Non-sequitur alert!

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 10:27:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See the forest, not just the trees,
Expand your mind. Let your thoughts drift.
You know it makes sense...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 10:54:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it not a saying in science that 'You never understand a new theory, you just get used to it' ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 02:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This anthology has as its purpose to "stimulate a social ecology that can unite and enrich both `reds' and `greens'" (x).  This may be a valid goal for European politics; I don't know.  I have my doubts about its efficacy in the American context.
In Europe there is already a mainstream green left movement, if by mainstream one understands parties with parliamentary representation. In that context, the purpose of this antology seems to be to promote ecosocialism as the dominant ideological strand to the left of the Social Democrats.
Maybe an American introduction to ecosocialism (Joel Kovel's The Enemy of Nature comes to mind, only not so academic or expensive) would address itself to a general audience.  Perhaps an ecosocialist movement would develop more readily from the ranks of the uncommitted public rather than by starting with those who have adopted a political position in the American context. It would then be free of the stultifying "orthodox Marxism" of the far left in this country, as well as of the "green capitalism" of the Green Party's orthodoxy.
We have seen where the "stultifying orthodox Marxism" has taken the Italian and Spanish left. In my opinion in Spain the only hope of the "United Left" is to complete its transformation into a "Green Left", a process spearheaded in Catalonia where the explicitly ecosocialist ICV holds one of the two seats in the national parliament in the United Left group.

The fact that in the US ecosocialism is completely out of the mainstream and would have to appeal to the "uncommitted public" is, I think, a reflection of how far to the right the political discourse is.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 07:51:25 AM EST
There's no longer much of a narrative of conscious and deliberate sharing of resources. We're living in Calvin and Hobbes world, where everyone is supposed to be a econo-puritan, working every hour because the devil makes work for idle shareholders, and it's every man and woman for themselves.

Fuzzy hopes for a more ecological future won't work unless they can tap into a sense of direct personal participation. Capitalism is amazingly good at this - it makes politics personal. When you shop, it's personal ('Because you're special...') When you work, it's personal. When you buy a new home, it's personal.

Eco-socialists don't have anything like the same level of participation to offer. It's assumed that everyone will be happy living in straw bale housing with a vegetable plot and a couple of windmills. But in reality that kind of lifestyle only appeals to those who are already converted.

You don't get from A to B by telling people this is how they should live - not even if the alternative is death. People are going to need more than that before they're willing to make the change.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 08:04:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The articles are what we might expect for a politically-inclined ecosocialist agenda.  Here it is in a nutshell.  Capitalism is on a collision course with the Earth's capacity to sustain life
Okay, I can believe that. In fact that was the gist of the "Limits to Growth" studies pioneered in the 1970's which all the "serious people" sneered at.
the existing society cannot be reformed or regulated so that it will "behave"
Can you expand on that? Why is it the case? This seems like a case of looking for a reason to advocate the same old "socialist revolution".
thus socialist revolution will be necessary to bring society into conformance with ecosystem stability


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:08:53 AM EST
Objection #1: We will want to preserve capitalism because of its productive efficiency.  The problem with capitalist production is not efficiency, but rather ecology.  Capitalist production is "efficient" when you disregard the convenience it has made of planet Earth.  It gets the lion's share of Earth's "natural resources"; it gets to "externalize" its pollutants after a minor degree of scrubbing.  If capitalist production really had to be careful with what it uses of its Earthly endowment, we'd regard it as quite wasteful.
I agree with that, but how about "we want to preserve a market economy because of its allocative efficiency"?

What does resource allocation look like in these ecosocialist proposals?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:17:46 AM EST
Objection #4: There is no existing ecosocialist movement.  But there are plenty of movements which could be ecosocialist, if they were only to take the next step and to recognize, more deeply, what it took to be ecosocialist.
What does it take to be ecosocialist?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:19:16 AM EST
Objection #5: The elites will destroy the world rather than give up their privileges.
That's not an objection, that's a supporting argument for your claim that
the existing society cannot be reformed or regulated so that it will "behave"; thus socialist revolution will be necessary to bring society into conformance with ecosystem stability


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:20:33 AM EST
Tactic #1: Examine economic decisions as political decisions.
And that is not just a "tactic", it is essential to reality-based economic analysis - in private discussions with JakeS it has become clear that all economics is political economy (as it used to be called before the Marginalist revolution).

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 09:24:20 AM EST
Promoting economics as a science and domain independent of politics is a necessity to keep a democratic mask on the capitalist system - capitalistic decision made by the powerful few would be much more unbearable if the population was conscious that these are political decisions.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 12:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your approach requires:
a) starting from scratch.
b) that people are rational and angelic.
c) that the interest of the "new man" will focus on the compliance with the environment.
d) and so on.

This is not possible. Experience proves it.

by PerCLupi on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 01:09:49 PM EST
Nothing wrong with a)

I partly live in a b) world with townspeople all around me running and taking part in drama, sports, political, gardening or many other clubs. They don't do it for money. They do it because they support the society in which they live. They like living.

It may be that doing something altruistically is irrational. But it could be described as angelic. But better described as putting smiles on other peoples faces.

c) could work for the same reason that people do other altrusitic thngs such as taking part in the non-work part of society, as above. People see such actvities as social maintenance. I see know reason why environmental maintenance could not become equally important.

However, this is a Finnish experience. Finland reminds me of England when I was a kid. Nature is all around. People are naturally 'good' - a sort of pragmatic Lutheranism. It may not be like this where you are. In Finland, experience proves that it IS possible.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 02:30:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry. I believe that I have not managed to explain well.
by PerCLupi on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 03:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a Finnish experience. In Finland, experience proves that it IS possible.

Is this as a personal or group experience, or as a rule regulating the entire Finnish society?

What I have said does not respond to my feelings or ideas, but to reflection on how to generalize the eco-socialism for the whole of society worldwide.

by PerCLupi on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 03:31:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not a rule, it is unwritten - but I could guess various reasons why it has developed as a component of Finnish society. It is most visible in smaller town societies - say 20 - 80,000. In the Finnish metropolii my guess would be a smaller per capita social investment. Remote, purely agricultural societies rarely reach critical social mass - though the church may still play a community role in these.

So this altriuism seems to fbetter lourish in certain sized communities. I assume that neighbourhoods can act as a flocks.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 7th, 2008 at 03:43:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Conan the Barbarian Economist will ride again!
by Gary J on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 11:55:33 AM EST

When Conan was in Finland, he was rather amused by some friends of mine sent to the airport to entertain him: Eternal Erection.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 8th, 2008 at 02:32:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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