Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Radical Critique of the “Green” Environmental Movement

  • Communist Party International Emblem, 1919
  • “Go Green” Emblem, 2010

    A part of the bourgeoisie wants to redress social grievances in order to assure the maintenance of bourgeois society.

    Included in it are economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, do-gooders for the working classes, charity organisers, animal welfare enthusiasts, temperance union workers, two-a-penny reformers of multifarious kinds.

    — Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party

    Surveying the various constituencies that make up the present-day Green movement, a number of distinct tendencies can be observed. These each have their own peculiarities and distinguishing features, and are sometimes even at odds with one another. But there do exist overarching themes that hold this jumbled mass of ideological fragments together. One trend held in common by most of them, for example, is a shared opposition to “big business” and “corporate greed.” It is on this basis that many of them fancy themselves to hold a generally anti-capitalist worldview.

    1. THE IDEOLOGY OF “LOCAL” AND “ORGANIC”: LOCAVORES AND URBAN-AGRICULTURALISM

    But on closer inspection, it can be seen in most cases that these activists don’t really want to overturn capitalism. They merely want to turn back the clock to what they perceive as a kinder, gentler capitalism, in which the “little guy” wasn’t stomped on so severely by all the corporate giants. They want the family-run local shops down the block where everybody knows each other’s first name. They miss the nearby farms that were owned by honest, hardworking families who brought their fresh produce into market every day. They want to get rid of all the corporate suits who come into town and vampirically leach off the hard labor of others and put these local stores and farms out of business by importing cheap goods made by foreign labor and selling produce enhanced by synthetic additives. (The völkisch and vaguely crypto-fascist/anti-Semitic overtones of this perspective should be obvious). Instead, these activists advocate to “buy local” and “go organic,” since they imagine that a world built on these principles is more “natural” than the one in which we live today. The pro-organic and “locavore” movements are based on precisely this belief, which they consider to be more “eco-friendly.”

    This world is, of course, a fiction. But that doesn’t stop activists from calling for a return to this paradise that Marx and Engels called “the idiocy of rural life.” Indeed, many leftish urbanites and self-proclaimed radical students have developed a bad conscience out of their sense of distance from the more natural and “authentic” world of organic farming. In fact, this has driven many such greenophiles out of their urban lofts or student housing in some vain hope of achieving a “return to the land.” They buy some land out on the outskirts and set up farms where they can grow their own food. This gives them an overweening sense of self-satisfaction; they experience the thrill of producing homemade, holistic goods, which they can consume or perhaps sell at the local co-op back in town. The maintenance of such small-scale organic farms, however, is a luxury available only to those who are wealthy enough to afford selling their produce at a loss, or those who find clientele wealthy enough to afford paying much higher prices for local organic products rather than their mass-produced synthetic equivalents. It is thus an elitist phenomenon not only in the smug sense of ethical virtue that comes with buying organic or local, but also in a very real, economic sense.

    There are those, however, who have not even had to look beyond the city limits for a place to reunite with nature. Though parks and public gardens have been a feature of most major urban centers since the nineteenth century, the movement toward urban-agriculturalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, and is associated with the whole ideology of Green. Many urban-agriculturalists are simply private individuals buy their own plots at outrageous prices inside the greater urban municipality, where the retail-value for the same acreage bought on the countryside would be dwarfed. So it goes without saying that those who can stand to keep up such an expensive hobby must be extraordinarily rich. But what they’re buying is almost certainly not the crops they will grown on it, or the relaxation brought from the hobby, but rather the knowledge that they, city-dweller though they may be, are eco-friendlier than thou.


    Read the rest here


    RENEGADE EYE

    74 comments:

    The Pagan Temple said...

    Okay, I don't think its possible for me to go through all this, but let me see if I can guess where this is going. Local farming through small scale family farms is bad because farmers are rip-off artists, and for some reason it will lead to a return to feudalism.

    But obviously, corporate farming is also bad, because that is nothing but more capitalism. I damn sure don't have to read the whole post to know the author is no fan of Big Ag.

    But, people have to eat, so we need a solution. No doubt a centralized bureaucracy where the "people" own the means of production of food through communal farms where "the people" engage in farming, growing, gathering, packing and canning, and distribution under the democratic authority of a central committee.

    Am I more or less right here? You know, I think this has been tried once before. Didn't work out too good. Nor will it.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    No, actually I'm all for the expansion of industrialized farming, and the refinement of the synthetic additives that are used to enhance the produce. If you have the time to read through it you'll see that.

    denise said...

    What a stale critique. A world wide movement generating the allegiance of millions and this shallow indulgencebin dogma is your response? Fortunately not all Marxists are so myopic. The tasks for those who call themslves Marxist is to actively engage with the green movement ad to engibeer an anti- caitalist perspective -- like the journal Green Left Weekly does.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    Also, to add to what I said earlier to The Pagan Temple, the means of production are rarely the problem...unless they are dangerous to the people operating them or if they cause too much collateral and needless destruction. But yeah, I'm all for accelerating the industrialization of agriculture, not slowing it down.

    And to Denise, my points in this piece are designed to show that some aspects of Green praxis are ideological dead ends, and that others are just flat-out regressive. As I've said before, the roots of a lot of the environmental rhetoric today goes back to reactionary Romantic nationalism and Nazi-style fascism. The one and only thing that the Green movement has offered and stressed that is crucial is sustainability. Outside of that, their personal lifestyle choices are inconsequential unless they join a mass movement of progressive anti-capitalism (Marxism). I say "progressive" because there are reactionary forms of anti-capitalism, not in the sense that it has in contemporary Anglo-American political discourse.

    The Pagan Temple said...

    Nothing against industrialized farming, and it would be a useless endeavor to oppose it anyway. The more the population grows the more impractical it would be to oppose it, as there are no viable alternatives. My only objection is to the anti-capitalist aspects. Also, I think small family farms should be encouraged, not discouraged, otherwise reliance on Big Ag would be just another route to bondage no different or no worse than any other form. In fact, industrialized agriculture without the counter-balance of the family farm would be the quickest route to a modern type of the very feudalism you so fear.

    I agree with the potential for the use of synthetic additives, with some caveats. I want to know what's in them and want to make sure they're safe. I also favor advanced bio-genetic engineering, which might even ameliorate the need for synthetics, possibly even eliminate the need for them altogether.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    The small family farm was a wretched institution in its later years and has by now been rendered thoroughly anachronistic. The only thing keeping them alive is a shared sense of social nostalgia.

    davidly said...

    I quite agree for your analysis. Unfortunately, it's too late for a solution. The capitalists have won; for they have managed to do with the food supply what they have done with the money supply. Except while the money grows worthless, agriculture will head the way of the banana.

    Renegade Eye said...

    I'll respond in the morning.

    Ross Wolfe said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Ross Wolfe said...

    Also, since I didn't want the sheer length of the comment to engulf Ren's page, I added a link where you can read the rest of the article, like Ren usually does

    Ross Wolfe said...

    I think the reason that Sentinal and the other right-wing readers of this blog haven't posted is that they're so used to railing against those "hippie vegetarian lefties" that they're astonished to see a Leftist critique of those same people

    Either that or because the entry was too long

    Renegade Eye said...

    Denise: Thank you for visiting.

    My disagreement with Ross is over method.

    When you first encounter someone new in politics, inevitably they say, "Why can't the groups get along?" Nothing turns off people more politically than squabbling. At the same time, you need to patiently explain their differences.

    I'm sure the Nazi references don't help, even if true.

    I usually explain my main difference with Greens, is I believe in abundance, and they believe in scarcity.

    Ross: See my comments to Denise.

    I don't believe in or practice mindless activism, I have interests in making alliances with people I disagree with.

    If the labor movement left the Democrats, and became Greens, I'd be a Green. In Pennsylvania the labor movement endorsed a Green, who got a big percentage of votes.

    How do you work with people you disagree with is the question.

    Organic farming is the only growing segment of farming.

    Pagan: What you think is a small farm, is just a franchise of Montsanto etc. The small farm is dead.

    Nobody is advocating forced collectivization.

    Davidly: It's not too late. The best thing happening for agriculture, is the Arab Revolution, a step to world revolution.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    Ren: Thanks for your feedback. I agree that my argumentative style can be quite off-putting, and that I should soften some of my punches and hold out the occasional olive branch.

    There is a certain pleasure in really brutal criticism, but it wins few allies. Then again, Lenin was constantly polemicizing with members of his own party. He never pulled a punch. He would listen to others, obviously, but he would tolerate no nonsense even when it seemed to be sympathetic to his own cause (like Bogdanov with his whole idea of proletarian "God-building"). But we live in different times, and the Left is in sore need of good allies. No matter how misguided they might be.

    Anyway, Ren, I know that you disagree with me methodologically over style, but I was wondering what you thought of the content of my article? Not only the critiques, but also the final section, "Results and Prospects"? A nod to Trotskii I thought you might like.

    davidly said...

    I admire your optimism. But my take on the Arabic Revolution is that it is neither Arabic, nor a revolution. Call it a feeling.

    I speak of the Agro-patents, which may not be the stumbling block to revolution in and of itself, but the preclusion of long-term sustainability of that which is patented, and the subsequent contamination of everything else is. Wheat in Iraq is just an intermediary example.

    While the Green's in Euroland gather signatures to limit the already expanded influence, one can only imagine just how far the Agrar-Monopoly has already gone.

    sonia said...

    right-wing readers of this blog haven't posted is that they're so used to railing against those "hippie vegetarian lefties" that they're astonished to see a Leftist critique of those same people

    Astonished indeed. I might add that yours is a dying breed. The "Greens" are taking over the Left big time. The only people who will agree with your article are on the right.

    Gert said...

    Ross Wolfe:

    ”As I've said before, the roots of a lot of the environmental rhetoric today goes back to reactionary Romantic nationalism and Nazi-style fascism.”

    Nazi-style fascism? In this context? I really don’t see the connection. Wherever you see fascism in action you see it allying itself with Big Business, not ‘American Gothic’ style family farms. Perhaps a few Nazis had small minded ideas about ‘going back to nature’, ‘organic farming’ and such like but it really wasn’t part of the Nazi mainstream, either in theory or in agro-industrial practices…

    Ross Wolfe said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Ross Wolfe said...

    Gert> The problem with Nazism is that it was an extraordinarily flexible ideology, able to incorporate a number of contradictory elements, including environmentalism (see 3 & 4):

    1. It loved the sort of modern militarist chic of huge, mechanically choreographed army columns, and the latest tanks and aircraft.

    2. It also reached out to the workers, insisting that it wasn't "the capitalist" who was taking all their money -- it was the Jewish industrialists and bankers. They waged mortal war against the KPD and in the end the brown-shirt thugs won out.

    3. Finally, they extended their ideology lovingly out into the countryside, with all the old-fashioned gabled rooftops that you'll see in Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. This is land where good, honest German peasants were suffering at the hands of big-city Jewish financiers. This was the völkisch component to Nazism, the idea of blood and soil. A very agrarian message.

    4. Also around that time some of the Nazis participated in an intellectual revival of the old Teutonic gods and the Dauerwald (perpetual forest) from which it sprang, with Siegfried triumphantly emerging from the Black Forest up North. This was an occult fringe, but they were the ones to first implement the idea of "sustainable" forestry and advocated a vegetarian diet.

    After the war, remnants of this ideology attached themselves to the New Left, mostly unconsciously, but still. It should be stated that these environmental initiatives were peculiar to Nazi and Romanian fascism, and no so much in Italy or Spain.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    Astonished indeed. I might add that yours is a dying breed. The "Greens" are taking over the Left big time. The only people who will agree with your article are on the right.

    And where do you fall along the political spectrum, Sonia? And what did you think of the article?

    Renegade Eye said...

    Ross: Louis Proyect I believe is correct this time, about Nazism and conservation. I don't think the Nazi references are relevant, to what is wrong with the environmental movement. I think it's apples and oranges to the discussion. Like Spiked Online makes good points about localism, but comparing it to Mao's Great Leap Forward is over the top.

    Sonia's blog is at my blogroll. Our relationship is dialectical. My blog is lefty with rightist comments, hers is the opposite. Her blog is more popular with the left, than any other rightist one.

    You don't persuade by denouncing popular causes or leaders. In Cuba if you say "Down with Castro," you'd be looked upon as an agent of Florida. Instead you make positive demands as being for the right of opposition parties, provided they are not pro-capitalist.

    See this. It is a transitional program. It differentiates us from extreme environmentalists without offending them. This is our statement on environmentalism.

    Some Greens have joined the Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor in the US. Many of them know there party is going nowhere. It isn't even a party, since every chapter is autonomous in practice.

    My main thought about your post is about style. It needs a positive program, such as transitional demands as in the link.

    Gert: See my response to Ross.

    Davidly: Capitalism survives by being flexible. Organic farming is the fastest growing tendency in farming. Unfortunately they can't deliver their products at the price the big corporations are able.

    davidly said...

    Capitalism survives by being flexible.

    Thanks for the reply. I would turn that on its head and say that capitalism survives by being rigid, while providing an illusion of flexibility.

    Sorry if this seems a bit off-topic. But with the patenting of the food supply, capitalism is not only making it difficult for organic farming, but increasingly prohibitive, and eventually impossible. My reference to the banana has to do with evidence which indicates that the strain-extinction trend is outpacing the ability to modify.

    The implication here being that to gain bottom up control of the industry, we first have to control the patents, and even if we do, we very well could be faced with endangered crops.

    The Pagan Temple said...

    "Instead you make positive demands as being for the right of opposition parties, provided they are not pro-capitalist."

    Yeah, right. Or here's another example, just as valid. Demand an end to capital punishment, except for murderers.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    Ren: You're right, and I probably shouldn't be so insulting and condescending to Green activists who might potentially be interested in Marxism. Most present-day ecosocialism is a bit confused in terms of its understanding of Marx, but perhaps that could be corrected.

    Specifically though, Ren, what do you think of the final section? Those are my most positive proposals, even though they are long term goals rather than immediate demands.

    Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy said...

    See SSPP Blog Post: "Apocalypse Now! The Fukushima Reactor and Environmental Rhetoric"

    "...More broadly, what is the role of apocalyptic rhetoric in environmentalism, particularly regarding climate change?"
    http://ssppjournal.blogspot.com/2011/03/apocalypse-now-fukushima-reactor-and.html

    Titan said...

    Give the kulaks BACK their farms!

    Thersites said...

    Move mountains. Dig new oceans. Herculean re-routing of rivers to cleanse the existing Augean political capitals of the world...

    And just where do you expect to get all the "energy" needed to do this? Wind Farms? Nuclear Reactor Farms? Enslave and then harness a trillion kulaks to plows?

    As Lazare Carnot so aptly forsaw, "If man wants to progress, he must create new forms of energy of greater and greater densities." This implies precise social and political considerations which Carnot was to elaborate in his first writings, ``Eloge de Vauban'' (``In Praise of Vauban'') (1784) and ``Memoire sur les Places Fortes'' (``Memorandum on Fortifications'') (1788).

    In those two works, Carnot for the first time clearly presents his idea of a republican nation-state, and that idea is very different from simple anti-monarchism. Republicanism can take diverse institutional forms, among them, the American model of parliamentary democracy. Carnot used the work of French military engineer Sébastian Le Prestre de Vauban, to present his own credo on the necessity for the spiritual and material progress of the labor force.

    Oh, that's right, First we must have "perpetual revolution" and burn EVERYTHING to the ground...

    *shakes head* and departs from the company of so many overeducated and underpracticed fools...

    Thersites said...

    What "terraforming" experience did Marx have. Vauban inspired Adam Smith and the physiocrats. Who did Marx inspire? Stalin and Mao... and 100 million dead peasants.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    "Kulaks" in the sense that existed in the Soviet Union circa 1930 do not exist here in America or in most of the developed world, for that matter. Smaller farms operated by families are usually just subsidiaries of big agrobusiness. It's almost a sort of corporatist program of collectivization, that has already taken place under capitalism.

    I agree that we must find newer sources of energy, not simply ones that are "renewable" or "environmentally friendly," but rather more powerful sources. The technical means of production to move mountains, tunnel through the earth, and re-route rivers already exists. Society must be given control over these forces so that it can self-consciously direct their energies for the good of society. The elimination of the anarchy of production would also allow for more collaborative projects.

    Thersites said...

    The elimination of the anarchy of production would also allow for more collaborative projects.

    Yes, just like it did for Ukraine during the Holodomor... ooops!

    Thersites said...

    What we need is a Great Leap Forward... Ooooops!

    Thersites said...

    Every attempt to date of creating Marxist "Tomorrowlands" have resulted in spectacular failures and tens of millions of deaths...

    ...but what the hell. Once more into the breach for the Gipper, eh Ross?

    Speedy G said...

    ...and what's the matter Ren? Can't stand the fact that the 3 contingent assumptions and therefore the entire basis for maintaining the Marxist myth have been exposed as frauds?

    Let your readers read the link you keep deleting.

    Titan said...

    Oh... you don't care that the philosophic foundation of Marxism gets exposed for being a fraud. You just don't like the actual "record" of communism's failure and resulting deaths being exposed....

    Gert said...

    Ross:

    ... what Ren said. Apples and oranges indeed. Like trying to tarr vegetarians with 'Hitler was a vegetarian, you know!'... Irrelevant and unecessary: 'goats woollen socks' environmentalism has no connection with fascism, whatsoever. They're wrong but not proto or post-fascist. Plain stupid, more like.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    Everyone> Well, Marxist or not, do you generally agree with the critiques laid out in the article?

    Trying to keep this on topic and not get into the same old pointless ideological war.

    Gert said...

    Never heard of this Lazare Carnot but on energy he’s on the money, alright. And his son was the inventor of the Carnot cycle, a heat machine that lies at the heart of the motorcar (well, almost). Quelle merveilleuse coincidence!

    Thersites said...

    No, I don't agree with your critique of capitalism. It doesn't make sense when examined in light of this trend chart.

    Capitalism, and the invention of the engine, has lead to 3 doubling's of the world population's in the last two centuries. And yes, Malthus was right vis-a-vis population/food production (absent fossil fuels).

    Population increases geometrically and food production arithmetically. And eventually...

    "This natural inequality of the two powers, of population, and of production of the earth, and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal, form the great difficulty that appears to me insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society."

    ...absent new forms of energy of ever greater densities.

    Thersites said...

    ...but I guess that's the whole POINT of the supposedly "pointless" ideological war. Capitalism has proven the BEST solution. To abandon it for centralized command and control economies has PROVEN to be sheer lunacy (100 million+ dead and counting).

    Thersites said...

    a heat machine that lies at the heart of the motorcar... and the tractor... freeing billions of farm-boys to move to the cities and work in factories ala China today

    Thersites said...

    ...and I'll dance with the woman I came with rather than dump her for that now wrinkled and ugly wh*re you've painted up & called "MARXISM".

    Renegade Eye said...

    I've had this blog since April 2005. To say I delete comments mentioning The Black Book of Communism is a joke. I must have had discussions about it 500x.

    It's bad blog etiquette, to not be concise and to the point.

    I'm going to ignore what is off topic.

    Ross: I thought the final part was strong, particularly at the end.

    The first part was unnecessarily combative.

    I'll make an analogy. Groups like Bob Avakian's say religion is what is keeping workers down, and religious ideas should be fought. If you look at the history of religion, you see it's dialectical and changing. The 1905 Russian Revolution was led by clergy, while 1917 was led by Atheists. Conditions change the consciousness of the masses. I can guarantee the Iranian Revolution will be secular. The same with environmentalists.

    I'll probably support the Green Party candidate for propaganda purposes. In 2008 the IMT did, although with our own literature. We persuaded the vice-presidential candidate to be for a labor party.

    Sustainability: I agree with your post.

    Pagan: I'll talk about Cuba another time.

    Gert: How you raise disagreements is an important discussion.

    Davidly: I don't know how to answer.

    davidly said...

    I don't know how to answer.

    Hey, thanks for even considering it. Just out of curiosity, is it because you can't figure out what I'm on about, or is it just that you don't share my doomsaying vis a vis genetic manipulation?

    Don' sweat it either way. We have the same problem with the Greens here in Germany. They compromised their social values during the Clinton era and - in spite of recent gains in one of the state elections - have absolutely no credibility, and therefore appeal pretty exclusively to Democrat types who only care that the "new technology" is the way forward to the "new economy".

    Power corrupts absolutely.

    The Pagan Temple said...

    I don't know who mentioned anything about Cuba, but I do know it wasn't me.

    Thersites said...

    I saw my post mentioning the Hardin critique and black book 3 times under two alias' and they all went through... I saw them posted... and then they disappeared. Don't give me that, "I don't know anything about it cr*p". This isn't the first time you've deleted my comments. Marxism can't survive w/o the ideologues like yourself keeping real info from your followers.

    Gert said...

    Ren:

    ”Gert: How you raise disagreements is an important discussion.”

    Nope. Didn’t get that either. Please explain.

    Thersites:

    ”This isn't the first time you've deleted my comments. Marxism can't survive w/o the ideologues like yourself keeping real info from your followers.”

    Don’t big yourself up too much. You’re coming across as an “ideologue” too, BTW.

    And ideological supporters of Capitalism are to be found almost exclusively in the USA now (bar a few European fringe nuts). But on this forum almost very post gets flooded with ideological comments about the glories of capitalism. Yet look at America’s problems on so many levels: how can that be the results of a ‘good system’? Surely just judging it by its results (a very mixed bag, to say the least) it too must be deeply flawed? Or is all down to ‘bad libruhls’… ;-)

    Thersites said...

    I am an ideologue, so it's no surprise I come across as one.

    Yet look at America’s problems on so many levels: how can that be the results of a ‘good system’?

    ... Or is all down to ‘bad libruhls’…


    It's the Left's contribution to "state capitalism" that's screwing it up. We desperately need to get away from the wealth re-distribution scheme's of the 30's and free health care for the new millenium bs. The government should not be in the business of picking weiners and losers (eyeglasses for "Plutus" - ala Aristophanes). They have to let the invisible hand of laissez-faire DO it's magic... and only collect taxes and pass out "welfare" to the DESERVING poor (instead of creating "Great Society" moral hazards that turn safety nets into hammocks) and to deal with the environmental overflow problems (something NOBODY is doing today - oil spill response and nuclear accident remediation technologies).

    You have a problem with capitalism, then look in the mirror. America's system is struggling because the Left won't keep their damn thumbs off the scales, and they keep trying to build off-budget permanent funding sources for their pet causes into unrelated legislation (ala - New Housing Construction for the poor via a tax on FANNIE/FREDDIE "profits" - lol!)

    sonia said...

    Ross,

    And where do you fall along the political spectrum, Sonia? And what did you think of the article?

    I would describe myself as a counter-revolutionary. I believe that the most oppressive governments in the world have been established as result of revolutions (and that includes the United States). Destroying those governments is my goal in life.

    I support rebels in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iran, and other Arab REPUBLICS, because they fight counter-revolutions against previous revolutionary changes in those countries. I oppose rebels in Bahrein, Morocco, Oman, Jordan and other Arab MONARCHIES, because they want to establish the same republican-socialist systems that wrecked Libya, Egypt, Tunesia and other countries.

    As for your article, I generally agree. But I don't have very radical positions on environment.

    davidly said...

    Thersites: ".. and only collect taxes and pass out "welfare" to the DESERVING poor..."

    And you call yourself as an ideologue. And how much of that government money, er, I mean taxes do you plan on spending trying to figure out who's "deserving"?

    Joe Conservative said...

    Why I'm an ideologue - capitalism has PROVEN it works.

    And how much of that government money, er, I mean taxes do you plan on spending trying to figure out who's "deserving"?

    Just enough to PROMOTE (not provide for) the efforts of ex-communists like this guy...

    Gert said...

    Thersites:

    ”They have to let the invisible hand of laissez-faire DO it's magic...”

    Then I’m sure you’re aware of the kind of ‘magic’ that laissez-faire Capitalism caused in Europe during Victorian times and the First Industrial Revolution: abject divides between the HAVE ALLs and the HAVE NOTHINGs with insufferable degrees of suffering on the latter side. Trickle down? MY ARSE!!! No bad libruhls to blame or ‘welfare hammocks’ in that historical case, just plain ole’ greed, indifference to suffering and a ‘let’s trample over dead bodies to achieve MY wealth’ attitude…

    The US is young and will learn (eventually) that unfettered Capitalism leads to the gutter. The fact that you personally are more than willing to entertain ideas about all sorts of ‘theoretical’ capitalist solutions that are supposed to work on ‘paper’ but never in reality, is just one manifestation of that. They say Communism was like a religion. Well, American Capitalist dreams still ARE a religion. But no longer on the rise, thank the Lawd!

    Thersites said...

    The US is young and will learn (eventually) that unfettered Capitalism leads to the gutter.

    We've been around since 1786... and we're not in the "gutter" yet. We've ceeded it (the gutter) to socialist Great Britain. ;)

    Gert said...

    Thersites:

    When you invoke the much touted canard of ‘Socialist Britain’, I invoke my own version of the Godwin Principle: you’ve lost the argument.

    Perhaps if you put the threshold for calling something ‘Socialist’ so low, it should come as no surprise that you venerate ‘Capitalism’ too.

    Nest: ‘Obama is a Marxist!’ Despite all your alleged reading you still manage to use the wrong definitions. Well done! I’ll put it down to the ‘capitalist education system’. LOL.

    The Pagan Temple said...

    Things went well in the US until the late thirties, and it doesn't take a genius to see that the more government intervenes in the economy and in all aspects of society, the worse things get. Education is one example. Health care is another. Every time there's a slight or perceived problem and government tries to "help", the long-term result is, things just get worse. So the government steps up to try to solve the problems they themselves have either created or exacerbated, and voila-things get even worse. That's true of everything, including, by the way, the environment, and, yes-farming.

    The bigger government gets, the worse it gets, it just gets more and more Byzantine, more and more inefficient, intrusive, and corrupt. Anybody with a brain should be able to see the logic inherent in the proposition that the bigger government becomes, the more expensive it gets. What's so fucking hard to comprehend about that?

    Gert said...

    Pagan:

    ”Anybody with a brain should be able to see the logic inherent in the proposition that the bigger government becomes, the more expensive it gets. What's so fucking hard to comprehend about that?”

    Anybody with a brain should be able to see the logic inherent in the proposition that the more a society goes’ pay as you go’, the more expensive lots of products and services become. What's so fucking hard to comprehend about that?

    At the end of the day it boils down to whether you want to have a society or not. In your wet dreams of (basically) no Government, each fends for his own and the idea of solidarity becomes a taboo, something that’s claimed to be ‘counter-biological’. This way you end up turning the Shining City on the Hill into a network of isolated gated communities for the haves, surrounded by a jungle for the have nots. I guess it’s a cultural thing: your dream, my nightmare...

    davidly said...

    Things went well in the US until the late thirties...

    Way to score in your opponent's goal.

    The Pagan Temple said...

    Only that's not what I'm saying, Gert. When you have trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, you are spending too much money, and you are doing that basically by having a bloated, bureaucratic government. And they accomplish nothing. They don't do what they claim they intend to do, in fact, they make things worse, then use that as an excuse to demand even more money, even more power. It's never ending. That's what bureaucrats do. They go to Congress and ask for more money, then they have to come up with excuses for why they need it. Then they generally get it because politicians and their supporters have a vested interest.

    There are laws. Nobody is talking about doing away with every law on the books. We can debate what ones are justified and what ones are not, and what ones are superfluous.

    And if somebody breaks a law, that's what courts are for. We don't need a small army in every cabinet department running roughshod through the countryside closing down family farms and regional food producers for every instance of bacteria found in, of all things, a farm that produces quality cheeses, for example. They are making a product that ages and draws mold. How could there fucking not be bacteria from time to time?

    It just adds to the deficit and on top of that, it puts a drain on economic growth. And if you "tax the rich" to control the deficit, then you just have more lay-offs from the work force. And on top of that, you still have all the other things I mentioned that is still draining the economy, artificially inflating prices. In order to make a profit, businesses have to raise their prices, because of government interference. Then I pay, not the business man. Shit, maybe I'd like to be able to buy some good cheese from time to time. Fuck that, I can't afford that shit, so I'm stuck with shitty fucking Velveeta. Thank you, prick Democrats.

    Thersites said...

    Perhaps if you put the threshold for calling something ‘Socialist’ so low, it should come as no surprise that you venerate ‘Capitalism’ too.

    You set YOUR threshold for capitalism as the "USA" and Britain of today? WOW. Talk about a low threshold for laissez-faire capitalism...!

    You should re-examine YOUR definitions.

    Way to score in your opponent's goal.

    Smoot-Hawley was laissez-faire capitalism? Whooda Thunkit!

    Thersites said...

    Is this laissez-faire capitalism?

    Government is always the "anti" free-market.

    Thersites said...

    btw - I'm sure I didn't mention this, but I am soooooooo free market, that I wouldn't even allow corporations to exist. I don't approve of laws that treat corporate immortals such as Struldbrugs differently from mere mortals. But then, I don't aspire to working in the Grand Academy of Projectors in Lagado, as most of you "chattering-class intellectuals" do, either. ;)

    Thersites said...

    ...the only exception being for the "common defense".

    Gert said...

    Thersites:

    ”You set YOUR threshold for capitalism as the "USA" and Britain of today? WOW.”

    Straw man. I said Britain wasn’t a Socialist country. It’s largely a mixed economy leaning towards free markets.

    ”Government is always the "anti" free-market.”

    Pure baloney. Not worth refuting. Wouldn't even know where to start...

    I didn’t say the USA is laissez faire capitalism either (it clearly isn’t), just that LFC is a (your) pipe dream and not viable. We know what it leads to.

    Gert said...

    Pagan:

    Many of your examples of Government’s overbearing and expensive meddling are undoubtedly true and apply also this side of the pond.

    And yet a lot of it is necessary. I ran a restaurant for about 5 years and got seriously annoyed with the ‘food hygiene people’, who made life hard and expensive for businessmen. And yet, I wouldn’t want to do away with them: there simply are too many cowboy operators in the field. It ‘self-regulates’ itself, you say? Yeah, AFTER they’ve killed a few people they usually go out of business. Not my kind of ‘self-regulation’!

    ”And if you "tax the rich" to control the deficit, then you just have more lay-offs from the work force.”

    Okay. Here ‘call me Dave’ is avoiding precisely those very tax hikes for the rich. Result? Massive cuts and lay-offs elsewhere. That’s why we’re beginning to see a strong reaction to the coalition government’s strategy. By the time Dave’s finished "reshaping the economy" we’ll have more unemployment than under Thatcher. But the rich will be safe. Why? Because the Tories ARE the party of the RICH!

    Ross Wolfe said...

    As I've said before, both free-market capitalism and state-interventionist capitalism are equally capitalist. Having a social welfare program in a country whose economy is based on the supervaluation of value (capital) means that the nation is still essentially capitalist.

    Second of all, Marxism is thoroughly anti-state and anti-bureaucratic. But unlike the anarchists, who propose the immediate liquidation of the state and want to let the chips fall as they may (in utter chaos), Marxism-Leninism is based upon the principle that the old state apparati must be smashed, and a socialist state must be established to manage production and distribution. Once it has removed all the vestiges of the old system and rebuilt society by eliminating the cycle of crises and overproduction that result from capital, the state will "wither away," as Engels put it.

    Finally, more relevant to this post: A post-capitalist society will not be one of scarcity or showing some sort of abstract "respect" for nature, with eco-friendly abstention and so forth. Socialism will mean the more self-conscious mastery of Nature, such that even capitalism couldn't achieve. Capitalism dominates nature, but in a sloppy and anarchical fashion. Under socialism humanity would have total dominion over the Earth for the benefit of society.

    Thersites said...

    As I've said before, International Socialism, the Socialist International and National Socialism are equally communist. Having a social welfare program in a country whose economy is based on the supervaluation of value (capital) means that the nation is essentially socialist. :P

    Renegade Eye said...

    Davidly: I think this hardly the time for cynicism. Workers occupied the state government in Wisconsin. Nobody would predict Wisconsin would be the place the world would focus on in relationship to class struggle.

    The Greens here aren't really functioning as a party. Some chapters even support Democratic candidates. Some don't even do electoral politics.

    Sonia: Your position opposing the American Revolution gets you heat from everyone.

    Gert: I wasn't clear. I was saying I agreed with you about Nazism and environmentalism.

    The UK carried quite a bit of derivatives for a socialist country. Blair a socialist (LOL).

    Thersites: The difference between Nazism and Stalinism is that Nazism was based on glorifying small business.

    Ross: I try to convince anarchists that the Paris Commune principles, should be a point of unity. Some as Larry G agree.

    Pagan: The whole concept of paying off the national debt is a joke. It will never happen. Austerity is unnecessary.

    The Pagan Temple said...

    Its not about paying off the entire debt, its about keeping it to a reasonably small percentage of the GDP. If it is kept to under ten percent, or at the most just barely over ten percent, its not really a problem. Its a problem when it gets to the high teens, and twenty percent range, and above. The fairy tale has got to end sooner or later. And if that means everybody takes a hit, and the standard of living is lowered, so be it. That beats the hell out of the whole country going bankrupt and everything crashing.

    Gert said...

    Thersites:

    ”As I've said before, International Socialism, the Socialist International and National Socialism are equally communist. Having a social welfare program in a country whose economy is based on the supervaluation of value (capital) means that the nation is essentially socialist.”

    ‘Socialist Britain’s’ new Government new/old adage is ‘Britain’s open for all business’, repeated ad nauseam. It’s believed by people like George Osborne with the zeal of the true believer that British business will get us out of debt and that it needs to be incentivated to the hilt.

    Corporation tax has already been lowered to ‘stimulate the world of business’. Meanwhile cuts in public spending are rife, are starting to hurt and are leading to some of the largest demos we’ve ever seen in this country (500,000 last count).

    Tory economic policy is largely a continuation of Thatcherite/Blairite policies. The New Labour opposition makes it no secret that they would have done much the same, only slower, slightly gentler.

    None of this has anything to do with 'socialism'. You’re using the term as a smear, then start believing you’re using an ‘objective definition’. You’re a bit stuck in Cold War mode, if you ask me…

    Ren: thanks for the clarification…

    Gert said...

    Pagan:

    I’m pretty convinced though that we’re setting ourselves up for yet another ‘Global financial crisis’, just around the next corner. The Masters of the Universe’ have learned nothing from the last one and haven’t had to experience any pain for the damage they caused. Bad behaviour is being rewarded here. I suggest anyone try and apply this to their kids and see what little monsters you will create.

    Meanwhile Joe Blokes is supposed to pick up the tab. Never have the middle classes been hurting more.

    The Pagan Temple said...

    I tend to agree with you there, Gert. There's a lot of bankers and Wall Street executives that should be serving serious prison time to this day. It's not just them though, its a broad swath of America that has just gotten too dependent on government subsidies. They're fine up to a point, by the way, but they've just gotten too much over time. They demand more and more every year, just like a Cabinet Department, and after so long it gets to the point where its unsustainable.

    Titan said...

    None of this has anything to do with 'socialism'.

    Awww, poor Gert. He ran out of people to rob... er-r-rr-r-r-rr-r... tax... for the socialist cause.

    Gert said...

    Titan:

    I think 'Midget' would be a more appropriate moniker for you.

    Titan said...

    I think 'Stupid' IS a more appropriate moniker for you.

    Richard S. said...

    Interesting post from Ross Wolfe, and I agree strongly with the critiques of certain elements of the Green movements as we know them.

    However, looking through it, I see the conspicuous absence of mention of certain radical thinkers and groups who don't fit so neatly into these characterizations/categories.

    Curiously, one thinker not mentioned is Murray Bookchin, an anarchist and ecologist who became disliked by many environmentalist anarchists exactly because of his strong stance against lifestylists, whom he discussed as being opposite to the "social anarchists." However, Bookchin, as the founder of a movement for Social Ecology, was himself very much an environmentalist at the same time that he was a proponent of the historical kind of anarchism rooted in the history of movements such as the Spanish Revolution (which he wrote about extensively).

    Menwhile, what about the Green Marxists, such as Andre Gorz? I became a big fan of some of Gorz's writing about 15 years ago, and I think he was superb at combining a certain kind of Marxism with environmentalism (if anyone hasn't seen it, read his classic, Ecology As Politics).

    Personally, I tend to focus more on class issues, but I can be sympathetic to a thorough critique of technology, and in my own Marxism (which admittedly has been informed by anarchism), I can side very much with those "infantile leftists" that Lenin ranted about. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that category include the likes of Pannekoek and the advocates for workers' councils? And, to a certain extent, Rosa Luxemburg...

    I actually agree with the idea of trying to create ideal standards within your own movement that at least somewhat resemble the broader social world that you want to achieve. I don't think as much in terms of lifestylism as I do in terms of creating activist groups that internally promote anti-hierarchical structures and principles of genuine, direct democracy (which, of course, is very different from parliamentary democracy). Unfortunately, many anarchist groups fall short of doing so, mainly because either they choose to avoid rules and structure altogether ("tyranny of structurelessness") or because the members themselves aren't vigilant enough at ensuring against creeping, unofficial authoritarianism and hierarchy (which can be the worst kind, actually).

    I do think that, historically, many left communists, whether or not you want to agree with them, actually did combine a Marxist critique of class struggle with an approach that sought to create more ideal, directly democratic social structures in a more immediate way. And it is arguable that Marx, who once praised the Paris Commune as an example of "Dictatorship of the Proletariat," possibly would have favored some of the experiments explored by the council communists over the example set by Leninists.

    Ross Wolfe said...

    Thanks, Richard S., for your feedback and favorable review of the piece itself. I will have to look into the thinkers you mention and maybe look to expand my critique, or scale it back to look at some other possible alternatives that look feasible.