Ecosocialism

Hannah Holleman, The Ecosocialist Imperative, October 25, 2016

Her work has appeared in numerous publications on subjects including imperialism and colonialism, political economy ecology, ecological justice, feminism, advertising and propaganda, financialization, mass incarceration, and social theory.

She is a featured speaker at a regional socialist educational conference, The Solution is Socialism, to be held at Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut on October 22.

David Kiely, a socialist youth organizer in Connecticut, interviews Hannah Holleman on the ecosocialist imperative.

1. You argue in a recent article,“De-naturalizing Ecological Disaster: Colonialism, Racism, and the Global Dust Bowl of the 1930s”, that predominant conceptions of environmental justice are too shallow and that the environmental movement needs at its center a deeper understanding of, and commitment to, real ecological justice. Can you explain what you mean and why this is so important?

Many focus on environmental injustice as the unequal distribution of outcomes of environmental harm. Colonized or formerly colonized peoples are homogenized and described as “stakeholders” in environmental conflicts. Mainstream environmental organizations, those on the privileged side of the segregated environmental movement globally, and more linked to power, are encouraged to diversify their staff and memberships and pay attention to issues of “justice.” However, the deeper aspects of social domination required to maintain the economic, social, and environmental status quo often are denied, minimized, or simply ignored.

Ignoring the systemic and historical injustice that makes current inequalities possible allows environmentalists and other activists, as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes, “to safely put aside present responsibility for continued harm done by that past and questions of reparations, restitution, and reordering society,” when discussing current, interrelated environmental and social problems.[i] Superficial approaches to addressing racism, indigenous oppression, and other forms of social domination preclude the possibility of a deeper solidarity across historical social divisions. However, this kind of solidarity is exactly what we need to build a movement capable of challenging the status quo and making systemic, lasting change that is socially and ecologically restorative and just.

John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, Monthly Review, October 10, 2016
Does Critical Criticism believe that it has reached even the beginning of a knowledge of historical reality so long as it excludes from the historical movement the theoretical and practical relation of man to nature, i.e. natural science and industry?

—Karl Marx and Frederick Engels1

Chris Smaje, The elephant in the room is capitalism. Maybe., October 9, 2016

I’d been hoping to pay another visit to the Peasant’s Republic of Wessex, but red tape has been holding me up at the border so it’ll have to wait probably for another couple of weeks. Instead, I thought I’d offer a few top-of-the-head thoughts on Felicity Lawrence’s recent article about agricultural pesticide use in The Guardian – or, more specifically, on some of the under-the-line responses it prompted.

Whenever someone writes an online article about virtually any aspect of the environmental challenges facing humanity, you can pretty much guarantee that underneath it somebody is going to write a comment that closely approximates to this: “The real issue here is human over-population. It’s the elephant in the room that trendy green thinkers don’t want to talk about.” In distant second place you’ll usually find a similar comment about meat eating. And, even less commonly, one about the flying or other carbon-intensive sins of said trendy green thinkers.

These comments doubtless emanate respectively from the childless, the vegan, and the foot-powered, and represent the pharisaical human tendency to elevate whatever behaviours we engage in that we feel are especially praiseworthy to a kind of touchstone status by which we can judge others less virtuous than ourselves. Hovering in the background of such thought is the ever present charge of hypocrisy, as in this recent tweet aimed at George Monbiot’s opposition to fossil fuel extraction: “Hey @GeorgeMonbiot – You PERSONALLY give up all items made or sustained by fossil fuels first, then we’ll talk.”

David Fleming nails this way of thinking especially well when he writes,

“Though my lifestyle may be regrettable, that does not mean that my arguments are wrong; on the contrary, it could mean that I am acutely aware of values that are better than the ones I achieve myself. If I lived an impeccable life, I could be lost in admiration for myself as an ethical ideal; failings may keep me modest and raise my sights”1

But, more importantly, all the obsessive finger-pointing about individual behaviours neglects the systemic logic which provides their ground. This was Marx’s insight in his critique of the utopian socialists – capitalism isn’t an especially nasty system because capitalists are especially nasty people. Therefore, building some nice factories with pleasant managers won’t solve the problem. The problem is that individual people ultimately have little choice but to respond to the behavioural drivers dictated by the logic of the (capitalist) system – and these drivers, investing a million innocent little decisions, have nasty consequences.

That brings me to my main point: when it comes to pesticide use in farming – actually, when it comes to a lot of things – if we want to talk about ‘the elephant in the room’, it isn’t human population. It’s capitalism.

Fred Magdoff, Monthly Review, September 16, 2016

Two weeks ago I returned from my fiftieth class reunion at Oberlin College in Ohio. The brief discussions I had there with environmental faculty and students left me feeling a bit dazed.

Paul Street, How to Stop Capitalism’s Deadly War With Nature, September 14, 2016
So far, 2016 is the hottest year on record. So was 2015. So was 2014.(John McColgan / U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Lili Fuhr, Thomas Fatheuer & Barbara Unmüßig, The Ecologist, July 19, 2016

The idea that our profit-oriented, growth-driven economic system can deliver a sustainable society is a beguiling one, write Lili Fuhr, Thomas Fatheuer & Barbara Unmüßig. But it is doomed to failure. The changes we need are in the first place political, and will be driven by a new democratic will to put people and planet before money.

Ian Angus, Interview with Ian Angus, July 18, 2016

Ian Angus is editor of the online ecosocialist journal Climate & Capitalism, and co-author of the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration. His most recent book, Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System, (Monthly Review Press, 2016) has been praised by Michael Lebowitz as a “crucial political intervention,” by Michael Lowy as “an outstanding contribution” and by John Bellamy Foster as “the most up-to-date and eloquent manifesto” of ecosocialism. 

Jill Stein, Green Party, July 12, 2016

Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate, released the following statement in response to Senator Bernie Sanders' endorsement of Hillary Clinton today.

(Dr. Stein will host a livestream broadcast on her Facebook page on Tuesday July 12th at 8pm Eastern time on the subject "What's next for our revolution?")

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