[OPE-L:1236] Re: Preliminary thoughts on value, use value, & ecology

mktitoh@e.u-tokyo.ac.jp (mktitoh@e.u-tokyo.ac.jp)
Tue, 27 Feb 1996 02:54:48 -0800

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Dear Jerry and other members;

In OPE-L 1217, Jerry asked my response on the Japanese discussion on the
ecological issue. It is an interesting but difficult issue fully to answer.
Still I found it suggestive and the sources are useful. Let me correspond
tentatively and in a very non-systematic way.

1. The ecological problem is related to the ways of utilize great nature
and technologies, and not so much with the use-value in general. As you may
know, we read, in the Section 10 'Large-Scale Industry and Agriculture' in
Chapter 15 of Capital vol.1, how Marx was concerned about the devastating
results of modern capitalist development, destroying fertility of nature.
This corresponds with his understanding of labour process as a metabolism
between human being and nature in chapter 7.

2. When I was a member of a Japanese quartary jouranal Crisis for 10 years
since 1979, the chief editor Momo Iida and other editorial members
including natural scientists and historians of sciences were continuously
interested in the ecological issue. Our common concern was not from red to
green but to combine red and green. As a step toward that direction, it
became more and more common recognition among us that technological
'progress' should not be regarded as something neutral and independent from
the social formations. I used to resist saying that some technologies as
well as natural sciences may be neutral, but more and more convinced that
most technologies after a certain historical period became often subject to
social relations in their ways of development. It must be interesting to
think of difference in neutral objectivity among social science, natural
science, and technologies.

3. In your fromulation of 3 positions, I feel that this aspect of problem
is either absent or weak. As a result the conclusion may become too
pesimistic. New types of technologies such as soft energy path, or safe
human biochemicals may be much more easy to develope if we can transform
the current dominant forms of capitalist production. Think of huge amount
of R&D research funds to guide and build up the current industrial and
consumption style.

4. In our joint book in Japanese, N.Okishio argued that the logical
necessity for capitalist economy to terminate is shown by its inability to
control exessively grown power of prodution and its devastating effect of
ecological natural conditions. I thought that his argument states at most
the necessity or need for socialism, not the logical inevitability for
socialism. Socialism beyond capitalism, in my understanding, can not be
realized without subjective social movement by the mass of people. One of
difficulty in the ecological issues would be how to encourage social
consciousness in various social movemnt beyond narrow short-sighted
targets. But this may be common with the difficulty in keeping socialism in

5. One of my teacher in our University, Yoshiro Tamonoi was attracted by
K.Polanyi, and began to discuss the ecological issue already since late
1960s in my memory. He suggested to think of the law of entropy. I could
not follow his argument, but became aware that the idea may be somewhat
related with the global circuit of water. T.Sekine, and Makoto Maruyama
among others are much influenced by Tamanoi.
We saw founding of an academic associaltion on ecology in Japan this year
where Maruyama is one of steering committee members.

Are these points of some help, Jerry?

With best wishes,