White House Protest Corps


The Eco-Socialist Alternative: Capitalist Destruction or New Civilization?
May 29, 2010, 2:00 am
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http://venezuelanalysis.com/print/5394

May 28th 2010 , by Gustavo Fernández Colón – Another Green World

The most serious aspect of the crisis facing the global capitalist system is not the bankruptcy of financial corporations, or the global economic downturn, or the discrediting of its institutions of political control. The greatest threat to the continuity of the capitalist mode of production is the environmental crisis caused by the irrational destruction of nature, to the point of jeopardizing the ability of self-regeneration of the ecosystems on which our survival depends.

For many analysts, however, a new long cycle of economic growth would be able to take off thanks to the efforts of countries like China and India, now converted into more desirable markets for transnational capital because of their abundant and “unregulated” cheap labor.

What analysts often do not reveal is that the high rate of GDP growth in China is misleading if one takes into account that the figures do not include the serious environmental and social liabilities generated by the “market socialism” adopted by this nation since 1979. Indeed, since the late nineties, “the World Bank estimated that pollution cost the country the equivalent of 8% of its annual production. That is, the enviable growth in China (…) is almost offset by hidden environmental [and social] costs, such as reduced life expectancy and declining arable land.”[1]

The economies of China and India will be forced to include in their accounting, sooner or later, the huge economic losses caused by global warming and climate disasters, depletion and water pollution, deforestation and desertification of soils, chemical pollution of food, declining wild fish stocks, the mass extinction of plant and animal species, depletion and scarcity of renewable energies, overpopulation and pollution in cities, migration and pandemics. Each and every one of these environmental liabilities must be paid, on time, for all humanity.

The invoices generated by climate change, for example, have already begun to alarm some sectors of financial capitalism, such as insurance companies. In 2000 a group of researchers led by Andrew Dlugolecki, belonging to CGMU Insurance Group (the largest insurance group in Britain), published a report according to which the property damage caused by global climate change showed a growth rate of 10% annually. If this trend continues, by the year 2065 the upward curve of losses will surpass Gross World Product growth, estimated at 3% annually. This means that the magnitude of the damage caused by the greenhouse effect that year will be identical to the volume of all the wealth produced on the planet. According Dlugolecki, long before the two lines intersect, the global economy will become bankrupt.[2]

Given this evidence, there is increasing uncertainty as to the possibility that capitalism (powered by China, the U.S., or both) will reach a new cycle of expansion similar to what occurred between 1945 and 1970. Similarly, it is absurd to think that it is feasible to transform the prevailing social relations of production and build a new society that is truly equitable, participatory, and sustainable, using the same energy patterns, technology and products developed over the past three centuries by the system of domination it aims to transform.

This apparent impasse does not mean that we are doomed to barbarism or that we reject outright the entire scientific and technological legacy of modernity. What corresponds to this dilemma is to be cautious against the risk of shipwreck, which would be any alternative socio-political project, to be led by the compulsive desire for reproduction of productive forces deployed by capitalism, without a critical assessment of its ecological, social, political and cultural effects. Do not forget that the stranglehold on political democracy and workers’ management caused by giving priority to technology and arms competition with the West was one of the fundamental causes of the collapse or involution of the most important trials of the Twentieth Century socialists.

Good Living

Against this background, it is important to examine the responses to the problem of the ecological unsustainability of “progress,” generated by left-wing political movements that have recently won power in Latin America. Beyond the philosophical, programmatic and contextual differences, a first common feature of the new popular governments has been the emphasis on the role of the state to curb social imbalances aggravated by free-market policies implemented in the nineties. In practice, this has meant a greater concern for social justice, the strengthening of government services, health, and education, emphasis on economic sovereignty, and greater cooperation and integration among the countries of the region to try to escape their historical subordination to the United States.

While recognizing the merits of this effort, we note with concern that the problem of the unsustainability of our economies is still not a priority for most governments in the new Latin American left. Categories such as “development,” “progress” and “economic growth” continue to guide the public policy objectives, which continues to be understandable given the urgency to grow our economies to distribute wealth more equitably and address problems of poverty that afflicts the vast majority of our population.

But despite the dominance of the development ideology, it is fair to say that there have been some significant achievements in the fight to get rid of the legitimating myths of capitalist modernity and lay the foundations for a truly alternative political paradigm. An example is the principle of Good Living, which underlies the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador. Good Living or Sumak Kawsay, in Quechua, is a concept from the worldview of the native peoples of the Andes and the Amazon, which refers to community life in harmony with nature and culture or wisdom of the ancestors. It has nothing to do with modern anxiety for “better,” nor with the ideology of unlimited growth and progress. It responds to a world view totally different from the capitalist ethic which encourages us to compete with others to produce and consume more, regardless of why our fellows have to “live evil.” As Leonardo Boff says:

“On the contrary, Good Living Ethics points toward having enough for the whole community, not just for the individual. Good Living is a holistic and integrated human being, immersed in the great earth, which also includes humans, air, water, soils, mountains, trees and animals (…) in deep communion with Mother Earth.” [3]

The Good Life is one of the most original conceptions inspiring revolutionary processes taking place in Latin America. Based on this philosophy, it is possible to characterize the fundamental force lines of the transition that will allow us to save civilization from the devastation of capitalism and contribute to the flourishing eco-socialist societies of the XXI Century.

Five Dimensions of the Transition

The first dimension of this complex transition would be the end of the cycle of non-renewable and polluting energy sources (coal, oil, gas, nuclear energy) and the beginning of the era of clean and renewable energies (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal, etc.). This includes the replacement of industrial agriculture based on monoculture, the use of pesticides, and genetically modified seeds with a new agricultural model geared toward caring for biodiversity, organic farming methods, the rescue of the knowledge and techniques of traditional farmers, and indigenous and local self-sufficiency. Also, we have to proceed to replace the individual car with non-polluting public transport to facilitate reducing the size of cities, as well as fostering a culture of recycling and frugal consumption, minimizing the weight of our “ecological footprint” on Mother Earth.

The second transition would be marked by the transition from private ownership and hierarchical and authoritarian means of production, to different forms of collective ownership and participatory management of production, distribution and services. This economic dimension of the ongoing transformation has its roots in centuries of popular struggle to end poverty and exclusion caused by the “invisible hand” of the market.

The third would be the transition from representation to participation as the guiding criterion of the political organization of society. The crisis of parties and democracy delegations noted the need to build a new institutional framework to respond to the aspirations of peoples’ permanent participation in making decisions on matters of collective interest. In this context, participatory democracy and direct democracy are the trends that emerged as alternatives to the old political order in agony on the horizon of the twenty-first century.

The fourth transition is reflected in contemporary struggles against cultural homogenization imposed by blood and fire since the fifteenth century European colonization of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. This homogenization was implemented, from the Twentieth Century on, through seductive advertising strategies developed by the mass media. Faced with this attempted annihilation of popular identities, different expressions of cultural resistance arise to combat the defects of discrimination, racism and xenophobia and promote intercultural dialogue within a framework of mutual respect for differences.

Finally, the fifth transition has to do with the end of the historical cycle of dominance of patriarchal societies and the establishment of new relations of gender equity, as evidenced by the growing role of women in the exercise of roles previously reserved for men and vindicating the civil rights of sexual identities.

In short, these five trends and others which teem in the senile womb of capitalism form the context in which ecosocialism erupts as political expression of an ethic, which is both global and local, focusing on shared responsibility to preserve the continuity of life on Earth by the selection of technological and friendly energy patterns for the health of human beings and nature. An ethics to safeguard the inalienable right of peoples to travel its own path toward the common good, in accordance with the ancient knowledge and indigenous cultural identities. An ethic that makes possible the construction of a new, fair international economic order and solidarity, where poverty, exclusion and the fratricidal war become, sooner rather than later, the remains of a historic step for mankind overcome.

Notes

[1] Johnson, Ian (1998, January 2). The cities ‘bumper’ hamper migration in China. Wall Street Journal.

[2] Climate change will bankrupt the world (2000, November 1924). The Independent. Available: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20001124/ai_n14354408?tag=untagged [1]

[3] Boff, Leonardo (2009, April 3). To live better or ‘Good Living’? Fusion Magazine. Available: http://www.revistafusion.com/20090403817/Firmas/Leonardo-Boff/ivivir-mejor-o-el-buen-vivir.htm [2]

This paper was presented to the forum, “XXI Century Eco-Socialism,” in Caracas, Venezuela, in June 2009. Gustavo Fernández Colón is a professor at the University of Carabobo, Venezuela. He can be reached at fernandezcolon@gmail.com.

Another Green World


Criminals Running the Crime Scene
May 27, 2010, 1:02 pm
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Criminals Running the Crime Scene

from Disinformation by ulysseslazarus

For anyone who needed a good, hard lesson in the nature of American capitalism and the Democratic Party, the Deepwater Horizon disaster provides it. BP, a massive energy cartel was allowed to flagrantly violate established safety laws by the Obama Administration. Indeed, the Administration abetted BP in violating safety and environmental regulations.

Oil has been allowed – by the government and BP – to gush out into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate as yet undetermined (but estimated at about an Exxon Valdez disaster every four days) for over a month. The administration finally admitted that the spill is the worst in American history, but didn’t bother to mention that it might actually get worse.

Despite public outrage, BP is still being allowed to run its own cleanup and investigation. The official investigation will clearly be little more than a whitewash. Barry does his usual mock outrage song and dance while shielding the perpetrators of a colossal crime of genocidal proportions. No one in the government or the media has suggested the unthinkable proposition that the perpetrators in BP and the government be investigated, tried and sentenced by the people affected most.



The unraveling of capitalism
May 26, 2010, 7:57 pm
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The unraveling of capitalism

Workers World

Workers World

Published May 26, 2010 1:38 PM
http://www.workers.org/2010/editorials/capitalism_0603/

Capitalism just doesn’t work. A recent Pew Research Center poll illustrated this reality when the results showed that fewer and fewer people in the U.S. view capitalism in a positive light, especially among the younger generation. Consider the following facts: Workers by the tens of millions are being downsized out of their jobs or never have had a job to begin with; they cannot afford health care and nutritious food; they are losing their pensions; and they are being foreclosed and evicted out of their homes, all while global warming and pollution, as the BP oil disaster reflects, run amok.

Young people in particular are losing faith in capitalism as public high schools are being closed in alarming numbers, especially in large urban areas. College tuition is out of reach for the vast majority of poor and working-class youth.

And what are the alternatives for young people when education is not an option? The economic military draft and jail. Studies show that a growing number of U.S. states are railroading more Black and Latino/a youth to prison, especially for drug convictions, than are graduating them from state universities. In reality, a whole generation of young people is being criminalized.

And since capitalism is a worldwide system that is sustained by making profits for a small clique of multimillionaires and billionaires, it needs a well-oiled repressive apparatus to try to keep the workers and oppressed disunited and disempowered. This apparatus, also known as the state, includes the mainstream media; all branches of government including local, state and federal; the prisons, jails and courts; the Pentagon and military; and much more.

The ruling class controls these repressive institutions with bourgeois laws and funds them. It uses them as a buffer between themselves — the rich — and the masses.

The most glaring repressive institution is the police. From the first day that children go to school in the U.S., it is engrained into their psyche that the police are there to “protect and serve” the people. But in reality the police as an armed body exist to serve and defend the private property and profits of the capitalist ruling class.

Just as the U.S. military and its puppets oppress the world’s people from Iraq to Afghanistan to Somalia, the police in all their forms oppress the masses at home. For immigrant workers, particularly if they are undocumented, this repression comes in the form of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and its armed border patrols carrying out raids and terror in the Southwest and elsewhere.

Millions of youth are stopped and frisked by the cops all over the country for no other reason than for being Black or Latino/a in a poor neighborhood. In New York City alone, 55 percent of the 575,000 people stopped by the police in 2009 were Black. An estimated 25 percent of the overall New York population is Black.

Aiyana Jones, a 7-year-old African-American girl, was fatally shot by Detroit cops after they threw a grenade into her home while she was sleeping with her grandmother. Two Black high school students and sisters, DeAsia and Destiny Bronaugh, were protesting against school closings in Cleveland when they were physically attacked recently by racist police and then arrested.

Ask any striking worker trying to stop a scab from crossing the picket line which side the police are on and they will nine times out of 10 answer, not theirs.

Police may have unions but workers they are not. Workers produce a product or service that is useful and necessary for the whole of society. The police serve as an armed, repressive force above the same laws that exist to keep the workers and oppressed down.

The same Pew poll showed that more and more people are viewing socialism in a less negative way. This encouraging shift in thinking within the most powerful imperialist country bodes well for forwarding the class struggle. But thinking must turn into action and organization in the radical process of replacing capitalism and its rotten class of rich parasites, root and branch, with a socialist system that will empower the workers and meet all of the needs of the people.

Only revolutionary workers’ power can realize a new society that will provide jobs, housing, health care and education as rights and bring an end to police and state terror once and for all.


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