Date: Wed Mar 16 2005 - 08:12:14 EST
Paul Z, Thanks for picking-up on the Caffetzis article (aside: if others had problems using the url, try using the url from my message on 3/9 where I mentioned his article in _Mute_). > Peak Oil is far more serious that such a conclusion captures. It is a > huge ecological crisis, caused by capitalism. It is far more than just > a 'distribution of income'/'rate of surplus value' question. It is a rape > of the Earth question with huge 'blowback', which could be > ameliorated with worldwide genuine socialism but even so we would > have to face the stark consequences of the preceding capitalist mode > of production. [...] > It would not even be avoided by socialism since socialism would > inherit the hydrocarbon-based transportation, fertilization, manufacturing > system all of us are using constantly, and the resulting ecological > disasters. [...] I agree. I will go further, though, and suggest that -- looking towards the future -- it is more than a question of the material conditions that will be inherited under socialism. The presumption of most socialists seems to be: yes, there will be challenges, but we'll cross that road when we get to it. I don't think, though, that most socialists have considered adequately the nature (no pun intended) of some of these challenges. *For example*, consider the issue of the destruction of habitat for other species and the annihilation (genocide in many cases) of many species. OK, it's easy enough to say that this is a problem that is largely a consequence of capitalism and the genuine protection of non-human species will only be possible under socialism. I would suggest, though, that the survival of other species (and, ultimately, our own since we all inhabit the same planet and the future of humankind is inexorably bound to the future of other living beings) will require a change in human *ethics* and *culture*. The construction of socialism must involve the transformation of human consciousness and, with it, a change in perspective regarding all species _including _our own. This need to transform human ethics and culture has long been recognized by some socialists. For example, Janos Kornai (back in the 1980's) emphasized the importance of "socialist ethics" and how that, in practice, was violated by "Departmentalism" and (willy-nilly) by internalities. Another way of expressing this problem is as a conflict between the "general" and the "particular" interest. But, what is the "general" interest? _Whose_ interest? Kornai didn't really deal with the issue I am getting at (although he was certainly aware of the consequences of internalities on the environment, which came into focus especially because of the ecological disaster caused at Chernobyl). Looking towards the future, there is no question that the wants and needs of a socialist society will have environmental consequences in terms of land use, resource extraction, and increased production of material goods. As those decisions are being made, how will we consider the needs of other species in relation to our own wants and needs? Socialists have long been opposed to chauvinism in all of its forms -- _except one_. *Human chauvinism*: the arrogant belief by humans that we constitute a "superior" species to all others. On what scientific and ethical basis can we claim that "our" needs as humans are more important than the needs of other species? This chauvinism, of course, has a long history. It is an ideology that is fostered by states, educational institutions, (most) religious institutions and even to a significant degree by the 'scientific' community. But, it is also a cultural and ethical belief which was brought into being historically and was alien to many pre-capitalist social formations. An 'environmentally friendly' (and therefore feasible in the long-term) socialism will have to confront this form of chauvinism -- just as we have to (and should now) confront other forms of chauvinism. In solidarity, Jerry PS: I have thought a lot about these issues recently. The stimulus for this introspection was someone I had the honor and privilege of meeting and interacting with on several occasions last summer while I was sailing in Maine. He was a juvenile Beluga whale who was named (by others) 'Poco' and he became one of my best -- and most intelligent and caring! -- friends. It is only our own arrogance, narrow-mindedness, ignorance and inability to communicate with beings who are non-humans that allow us to continue with the self-assured pretense of believing that we are the "highest" life form. I know better, not only intellectually, but personally. For that, I have Poco to thank. Some day, I hope to write more about this this experience, but not now. It is still too painful -- since he died (because of an infectious disease, according to the necropsy performed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) in November.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Mar 17 2005 - 00:00:01 EST