In February 2000 the Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen blurted out during a conference in Mexico, “No! We’re no longer in the Holocene but in the Anthropocene!” His remark initiated a tsunami of scholarship by himself and other scientists, evaluating the merits of a radical proposition: that human impact upon every segment of the Earth system has been so profound and long-lasting that it has catapulted us into a new epoch in our planetary history.
Between 1872 and 1882, Frederick Engels worked on a book titled “The Dialectics of Nature” that sought to apply Marxist dialectics to the natural world. Although it was never completed and is filled with dated ideas about science, it is a work that has earned the respect of some of the most important scientists on the left such as Stephen Jay Gould who praised its best known chapter that was issued separately as a pamphlet—The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man.
In August 2016, the International Geological Congress voted formally to recognise that the world has entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene. The effect of human activity on the planet has now become as significant as that of the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs and ended the Cretaceous era.
Chris Williams and Fred Magdoff, TruthOut, August 19, 2017
What would a truly just, equal and ecologically sustainable future look like? Why would it require a change in our economic system, namely the end of capitalism? Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams answer these questions in Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation. Suffused with radical hope, this book can be yours with a donation to Truthout!
“In order to replace capitalism with an ecological society we need a revolution.” That modest sentence is how Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams, the authors of Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation, begin the last chapter of their new book. Although the chapter is the end of the book, it is also an opening to a new direction, a new movement. It is also the essence of the entire text.
A long-standing critique of the writings of Marx and Engels has been their supposed lack of concern for or even analysis of the environmental damage caused by capitalism. Worse, even as they envisaged and fought for a world of human freedom, their conception of socialism showed a comprehensive disregard for how humans interact, or should interact, with nature.
In Militant Particularism and Global Ambition: The Conceptual Politics of Place, Space, and Environment in the Work of Raymond Williams, David Harvey discusses the challenges presented by moving from place out across time.