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Ecology

Marx and Engels and ‘Small Is Beautiful’ & A Response

I am a regular reader of Monthly Review. I read with interest the recent articles on ecology and Marxism…. It is true that Marx and Engels conceived that capitalism engenders a “metabolic rift” in nature and society. But both of them emphasized that the industrial growth that socialism would produce is beyond imagination under capitalism…. In the middle of the nineteenth century, it was impossible for Marx and Engels to envisage the ecological catastrophe that a constantly expanding industrial society can ensue.… | more…

The March Towards the Abyss

It is not a matter of being optimistic or pessimistic, knowing or not knowing elementary things, of being responsible or not for events. Those who would like to be thought of as politicians should be thrown onto the trash heap of history when, as the norm goes, they have no idea about everything or almost everything related to it in that activity.

Of course I am not speaking about those who throughout the various millennia turned public affairs into instruments of power and wealth for the privileged classes, an activity where the real records of cruelty have been imposed during the last eight or ten thousand

Food as a Commodity

Food is one of the most basic of human needs. Routine access to a balanced diet is essential for both growth and development of the young, as well as for general health throughout one’s life. Although food is mostly plentiful, malnutrition is still common. The contradiction between plentiful global food supplies and widespread malnutrition and hunger arises primarily from food being considered a commodity, just like any other.… | more…

The Paradox of Cuban Agriculture

When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet Bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilizers, pesticides, tractors, parts, and petroleum. The situation was so bad that Cuba posted the worst growth in per capita food production in all of Latin America and the Caribbean. But the island rapidly re-oriented its agriculture to depend less on imported synthetic chemical inputs, and became a world-class case of ecological agriculture. This was such a successful turnaround that Cuba rebounded to show the best food production performance in Latin America and the Caribbean over the following period, a remarkable annual growth rate of 4.2 percent per capita from 1996 through 2005, a period in which the regional average was 0 percent.… | more…

Capitalism and the Accumulation of Catastrophe

Over the next few decades we are facing the possibility, indeed the probability, of global catastrophe on a level unprecedented in human history. The message of science is clear. As James Hansen, the foremost climate scientist in the United States, has warned, this may be “our last chance to save humanity.” In order to understand the full nature of this threat and how it needs to be addressed, it is essential to get a historical perspective on how we got where we are, and how this is related to the current socioeconomic system, namely capitalism.… | more…

The Ecology of Marxian Political Economy

It is no secret today that we are facing a planetary environmental emergency, endangering most species on the planet, including our own, and that this impending catastrophe has its roots in the capitalist economic system. Nevertheless, the extreme dangers that capitalism inherently poses to the environment are often inadequately understood, giving rise to the belief that it is possible to create a new “natural capitalism” or “climate capitalism” in which the system is turned from being the enemy of the environment into its savior. The chief problem with all such views is that they underestimate the cumulative threat to humanity and the earth arising from the existing relations of production. Indeed, the full enormity of the planetary ecological crisis, I shall contend, can only be understood from a standpoint informed by the Marxian critique of capitalism.… | more…

Environmental Justice and the Criminalizing of Dissent

Will Potter, Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2011), 302 pages, $16.95, paperback.

It starts with a knock on the door. FBI agents threaten to put journalist Will Potter’s name on a terrorist watch-list for leafleting. They want him to inform on his friends in the environmental justice community. They threaten to show up at his work, to ruin his career, his education, and make other threats. Potter refuses to collaborate, and never hears from the agents again, but the incident leaves him changed. “I do not know it right now, but this experience will mark the beginning of both a personal and a political journey. After the initial fear subsides, I will become obsessed with finding out why I would be targeted as a terrorist for doing nothing more than leafleting”…. Potter chronicles his journey, attempting to unravel why the non-violent animal rights and environmental movement is the federal government’s number one domestic terrorism priority. From the front lines of an activist campaign in New Jersey to the halls of Congress and beyond, Potter documents how this movement is persecuted by law enforcement and legislative action for its political and moral beliefs in defense of animals and the environment.… | more…

The disaster in Japan and a friend’s visit

Today I had the pleasure of greeting Jimmy Carter, who was President of the United States between 1977 and 1981 and the only one, in my opinion, with enough equanimity and courage to address the issue of his country’s relations with Cuba.

Carter did what he could to reduce international tensions and promote the creation of interest sections in Cuba and the United States. His administration was the only one to take a few steps to moderate the criminal blockade imposed on our people.

The circumstances were certainly not propitious in our complex world. The existence of a truly free and sovereign country in our hemisphere could

Good Conduct Certificate

In these bitter days we have seen pictures of an earthquake that reached 9 on the Richter Scale with hundreds of strong after-shocks, and a tsunami 10 metres high whose waves of dark waters dragged tens of thousands of people between cars and trucks over homes and 3 and 4 storey buildings.

Sophisticated mass media has been saturating our minds with the news of civil wars, arms trade associated with drugs that in just five years have killed more than 35,000 people in Mexico, climatic changes in various countries, asphyxiating heat waves, mountains of ice melting at the poles, torrential rains, shortages and growing prices for

The disasters threatening the world

IF the speed of light didn’t exist, if the closest star to our sun weren’t four light years away from Earth, the only inhabited planet in our solar system, if UFOs truly existed, imaginary visitors to the planet would continue their journey without understanding much of anything about our long-suffering human race.

Just a few centuries ago in the long history of humanity, no one knew what happened on the other side of the globe. Today we can find out instantaneously and, sometimes, they are events of great importance which affect all of the world’s peoples.… | more…

Two Earthquakes

A strong 8.9 on the scale earthquake shook Japan today. The most worrying is that early news reports were talking about thousands dead and missing, figures really unheard of in a developed country where all constructions are quake-proof. They were even talking about a nuclear reactor that was out of control. Hours later, it was informed that four nuclear plants close to the most affected area were under control. There was also information about a tsunami 10 metres high that had the entire Pacific area on tidal wave alert.… | more…

The Cynical Dance Macabre

The policy of plunder imposed by the United States and their NATO allies in the Middle East has gone into a crisis. It has inevitably unraveled with the high cost of grain, the effects of which can be felt more forcefully in the Arab countries where, in spite of their huge resources of oil, the shortage of water, areas covered by desert and the generalized poverty of the people contrast with the enormous resources coming from the oil possessed by the privileged sectors.… | more…