[lbo-talk] The Planet is Fine (Carrol Cox)

Joseph Green jgreen at communistvoice.org
Sat Dec 17 20:04:48 PST 2011

Well, Carrol, the point is that you have no policy for the environmental issue; no idea of what should be done; no idea of what's wrong with the bourgeois environmentalist program; and no encouragement for the ongoing struggle of environmental activists who are to the left of the bourgeois environmentalists. And you boast that you don't care to read or think about these things. You criticize environmentalists in general, but you have no idea of what working-class environmentalism would be. Indeed, your deprecated denunciation of what's going on at UN climate summits, like the recent Durban conference, by claiming that nothing can be done until global socialism, so why concern oneself with these issues? And you claim you have the real criticism of "far too many environmentalists", your criticism being mainly that they are concerned with the environment.

You write that the best chance for some progress before global socialism involves "the simple existence of powerful social movements". Of course, but there already is a certain mass environmental movement, and your argue for abstaining from it. Yet it doesn't help any other social movement to deprecate one of them; it hurts them all. Socialism isn't brought closer by shrugging off the environmental movement, but it is pushed further away.

As the environmental crisis deepens, and the consequences of climactic change become more dramatic (storms, shortages, economic collapse of certain regions, other catastrophes, large numbers of environmental refugees, etc.) more and more people, groups, and trends will react one way or another, and even the capitalist states will react one way or another. If the social movements and working-class activists don't develop their own policy on this question, they will end up simply following this or that variant of bourgeois policy. It's true that the crisis of left-wing thought and the disorganization of the working-class movement affects the current environmental movement, but it affects all social movements. The point, however, isn't to denounce environmentalism in general, which would be an incredibly stupid and conservative policy, no better in essence then global warming denialism, but to encourage the development of a working-class environmental movement which will link the class struggle with the environmental struggle; fight for serious environmental measures, which must be integrated with serious measures for the protection of the livelihood of the masses; oppose market measures like cap n' trade, carbon offsets, the carbon tax and other neo-liberal frauds; and be an alternative to bourgeois environmentalism.

> On Dec 14, 2011, at 8:14 PM, Carrol Cox wrote:
> > I haven't read any of the posts under this subject line because the
> > itself is silly. Of curse the planet is fine; it's always been fine. What
> is
> > in question of whether it is going to continue to be fine FOR human
> Carrol, you're the only member of LBO-Talk for whom I would willingly take
> bullet, and I know that your vision challenges limit your ability to engage
> with the list (and I know you know how seriously I take those challenges,
> because I have gone out of my way on more than one occasion to make sure
> information posted to the list was available to you in a form you would be
> able to read), but you've really missed the point here. ...
> ======
> Lbo is right that one should not be flippant on complex subjects,
> without first finding out what the immediate context is.
> And I don't know whether the following should be introduced with an "And"
> a "But."
> >From everything I've read on this subject of climate change over the past
> decade, we have already passed the slipping point. I say that presupposing
> that before serious efforts can be made in slowing down climate change
> must be serious shifts in power _globally_ and not just in a few nations.
> read Capital prior to any involvement in politics, and the thoughts it
> generated in me was a speculation that perhaps the best future would be a
> return to feudalism. That is, I was impressed by Marx's _negative_ critique
> of capitalism, but simp critique of capitalism, but simply did not take
> seriously a socialist program. (I knew nothing of socialism at the time,
> let that pass.) The point is that even then, rather casually and
> superficially, I tended not to focus on "The Problem" (whatever the problem
> might be) but on the power relations required for 'dealing with' the
> problem. Gar and I have occasionally exchanged remarks on this going back
> the earliest days of this maillist.
> In other words, my occasional flippancy on the subject of climate change
> been grounded in serious skepticism that under capitalism any significant
> change will be made. China, India, Brazil MUST continue to industrialize in
> order to remain (or to become) independent nations, and in capitalism
> remaining an independent nation is for various reasons imposed on peoples.
> And yet even slowing up let alone actually controlling climate change
> involves a radical reduction in energy use more or less worldwide but
> especially in the nations named in addition to Europe, the U.S., & Japan.
> my flippancy is partly whistling past the cemetery. Secondly, a political
> observation: I have noticed time after time over the last 40 years (going
> back to Earth Day 1970) the way in which a focus on environmental dangers
> tended to turn people away from political activity and questions of power.
> Over 10 years ago, in a set of threads involving the late Mark Jones (I
> think I'm remembering the context correctly), Hans Eehbar (who occasionally
> posts here) acknowledged in a direct exchange with a question I posed that
> probably we needed dictatorships (presumably rightist ones) in the major
> industrial powers to adopt the necessary policies to reverse global
> He may or may not still feel that way. A few years ago, however, responding
> to a post by me that called for cessation of all u.s. foreign aid (which is
> always aid for tyrants, never for people) he objected on the basis that the
> u.s. would have to underwrite green policies around the world. The question
> of whether the u.s. government would ever do that did not come up. He just
> claimed it had to. Farr too many Evnironmentalists seem to assume that all
> that is necessary is to continue screaming (truthfully, but that is not the
> point here) that we are heading toward doom: I kept asking Mark & Lou
> Proyect in that debate referred to above how we were to do something about
> it and they kept coming back with arguments that something needed to be
> done. I would say, yes I agree completely, but how should we acquire the
> power to do something and they replied with more detailed arguments giving
> the technical reasons something had to be done about it. I agree. But I'm
> pretty pessimistic that anything will, and I don't think arguments about
> need for doing something really contribute to creating the social relations
> that would make that possible.
> The struggle for "socialism" (however defined) is the struggle for social
> relations which will allow humans to cope as best they can under
> conditions.
> And I also feel that the best chance for capitalist states to make _some_
> effort_ at bringing climate exchange under control is the simple existence
> of powerful social movements, independently of whether those movements
> specific environmental demands or not. Until such movements are appear and
> grow, talk about the planet seems to me to be pretty much irrelevant.
> one of the reasons I occasionally emphasize that expectations of victory
> not necessary to inspire the struggle. Why go meekly to our doom.
> Carrol

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