[DEBATE] : Fwd: FW: [agp-sa] FW: [smi-kzn] Karl Marx the ecologist
ecopeace at gmail.com
Fri Mar 13 10:40:07 GMT 2009
From: agp-sa at yahoogroups.com [mailto:agp-sa at yahoogroups.com]
Sent: 06 March 2009 01:10 PM
To: agp-sa at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [agp-sa] FW: [smi-kzn] Karl Marx the ecologist
This is very good, but it is still wishful thinking that even Karl Marx the
ecologist has hit the top seller lists. I cannot find any indication of this
through a search of the web, if anyone knows any better please post the
relevant links. Below are the NYT business best sellers. Unfortunately, I
think that Karl Marx will only hit the bestsellers list when he is
rediscovered as a self-help guru. In the meantime it is up to activist like
you to promote discussion.
An important issue is Marx’s philosophy of materialism; this is still a
challenge to most religions. This is not to say that there is no such a
thing as spirituality, but in this approach, mind or consciousness would be
regarded as an emergent property of matter, the body, specifically the
brain. Similarly, spirituality would consequently be considered emergent
phenomena from a balance of body and psyche. This is also the scientific
biological approach. Many organised religions have difficulty reconciling
with this even 200 years after the birth of Charles Darwin. There is still
also difficulty for many to come to terms with the indeterminate statistical
aspects at the quantum levels, yet quantum physics and evolution are two of
the most verifiable and useful sciences.
I have also attached some recent articles as more food for thought, two of
which may be seen as New Age mystical attempts to save religion from
evolution, yet via the path of evolution. (If it looks like postmodernism,
smells like postmodernism and tastes like postmodernism, be very careful not
to step in it.) “Will Religion Survive?” challenges science for not avoiding
inhumanity. Some points in “The Evolutionary Nature of Religion” are made in
a seemingly universal manner, but they would not apply to atheistic
religions like Buddhism, which does not have a problem with evolution.
“Atheism under attack” emphasises the need for atheists to organise to
protect themselves from prejudice and discrimination. Is this the latest
form of identity politics?
Paperback Business Best Sellers
Published: February 27, 2009
1 SUZE ORMAN’S 2009 ACTION PLAN, by Suze Orman. (Spiegel & Grau,
$9.99.) Managing your money in hard times. (†) 1
2 THE TIPPING POINT, by Malcolm Gladwell. (Back Bay/Little, Brown,
$14.95.) How and why certain products and ideas become fads.) 2
3 GETTING THINGS DONE, by David Allen. (Penguin, $15.) Methods for
reducing stress and increasing performance. (†) 3
4 THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, by Stephen R. Covey.
(Free Press, $15.) A new edition of the author's principles for
solving problems. (†) 4
5 THE FORGOTTEN MAN, by Amity Shlaes. (Harper Perennial, $15.95.) A
reinterpretation of the New Deal and the Great Depression.
6 RICH DAD, POOR DAD, by Robert Kiyosaki with Sharon Lechter.
(Warner, $16.95) What the wealthy teach their children about money
that others do not. (†) 5
7 THE SPEED OF TRUST, by Stephen M. R. Covey with Rebecca R. Merrill.
(Free Press, $15.) How to cultivate trust in business, politics and
personal relationships. (†) 10
8 A WHOLE NEW MIND, by Daniel H. Pink. (Riverhead, $15.) Why
right-brainers will rule the future. 8
9 THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, by Naomi Klein (Picador, $16.) The implementing
of economic policies following moments of "shock and awe." 9
10* REAL MONEY, by James J. Cramer. (Simon & Schuster, $16.) Learn
inside investment advice from former hedge-fund manager. (†) 6
Rankings are based on February figures at many thousands of venues where a
wide range of general interest books are sold nationwide. These include
hundreds of independent book retailers (statistically weighted to represent
all such outlets); national, regional and local chains; online and
multimedia entertainment retailers; university, gift, supermarket, discount,
department stores and newsstands. An asterisk (*) indicates that a book's
sales are barely distinguishable from those of the book above. A dagger (†)
indicates that some bookstores report receiving bulk orders.
From: smi-kzn at yahoogroups.com [mailto:smi-kzn at yahoogroups.com] On
Behalf Of rassool1
Sent: 04 March 2009 06:47 AM
To: agp-sa at yahoogroups.com; smi-kzn at yahoogroups.com;
ccs-l at lists.ukzn.ac.za; politicalislam at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [smi-kzn] Karl Marx the ecologist
Karl Marx the ecologist
By Simon Butler
February 21, 2009 -- As the world economy spirals down into its deepest
crisis since the great depression, the writings of Karl Marx have made a
return to the top seller lists in bookstores. In his native Germany, the
sales of Marx's works have trebled.
His theories have been treated with contempt by conservative economists and
historians. Yet, in the context of the latest economic downturn, even a few
mainstream economists have been compelled to ask whether Marx was right
Marx argued that capitalism is inherently unstable, fraught with
contradictions and prone to deep crises.
Exploitation, war, hunger and poverty were not problems that could be solved
by the market system, he said. Rather, they were inescapable outcomes of the
system itself. This is because capitalism is dominated by the wealthiest
corporations and devoted to profit above all else.
Only a move to a democratic socialist society, where ordinary people are
empowered to make the key decisions about the economy and society
themselves, can open the path to genuine freedom and liberation.
Famous for their critique of capitalism and for advocating social
revolution, Marx and his co-thinker Frederick Engels are far less known for
their concern for the destruction of the environment and the need for
Taken together, their views on the relationship between human society and
the environment rank them among the most advanced environmentalists of their
According to Marx, capitalism is an economic system profoundly at odds with
a sustainable planet. The exploitation of nature is as fundamental to the
profit system, he argued, as the exploitation of working people.
One of the key goals of socialism is to liberate the natural world from the
anti-environmental impacts of corporate greed. "From the standpoint of a
higher economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in
the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in
other men", Marx wrote.
He was scathing of the capitalist economic notion that the air, rivers, seas
and soil can be treated as a "free gift of nature" to business.
Custodians not owners
"Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies
taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors,
its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to
The market system is incapable of preserving the environment for future
generations because it cannot take into account the long-term requirements
of people and planet. The competition between individual enterprises and
industries to make a profitable return on their investment tends to exclude
rational and sustainable planning.
Engels explained this destructive dynamic: "As individual capitalists are
engaged in production and exchange for the sake of the immediate profit,
only the nearest, most immediate results must first be taken into account.
"As long as the individual manufacturer or merchant sells a manufactured or
purchased commodity with the usual coveted profit, he is satisfied and does
not concern himself with what afterwards becomes of the commodity and its
"The same thing applies to the natural effects of the same actions."
In Marx and Engels's time, this feature of capitalism was especially
apparent in farming and agriculture.
"The way that the cultivation of particular crops depends on fluctuations in
market prices and the constant changes in cultivation with these price
fluctuations - the entire spirit of capitalist production, which is oriented
towards the most immediate monetary profits - stands in contradiction to
agriculture, which has to concern itself with the whole gamut of permanent
conditions of life required by the chain of human generations", Marx wrote.
Capitalist farming is unsustainable because it inevitably starves the soil
of nutrients. It is nothing less than "an art, not only of robbing the
labourer, but of robbing the soil".
Furthermore, Marx held that "all progress in increasing the fertility of the
soil for a given time is a progress towards ruining the more long-lasting
sources of that fertility. The more a country starts its development on the
foundations of modern industry, like the United States, for example, the
more rapid is this process of destruction.
"Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology ... only by sapping
the original sources of all wealth - the soil and the worker."
Dynamic and complex
Marx and Engels understood the Earth's ecosystem as dynamic and complex - an
intricate, delicately balanced process of interacting components where any
changes that occur feed back with new, and often unpredictable, effects.
We disrupt the natural ecosystem at our peril, Engels warned. "Let us not,
however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over
nature. For each victory nature takes its revenge on us.
"Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we
expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different,
unforeseen effects which only too often cancel out the first."
Many times Marx described the normal interaction between human society and
the natural world as a kind of "metabolism". Capitalist production creates a
"metabolic rift" - a sharp break in the relationship - between humanity and
The environmental results of this deepening rift have proved devastating.
"The development of civilisation and industry in general has always shown
itself so active in the destruction of forests that everything that has been
done for their conservation and production is completely insignificant in
comparison", Marx pointed out.
Engels added: "At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over
nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside
of nature." On the other hand, "we have the advantage of all other creatures
of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly." That is, we can
organise society in step with nature's limits.
Marx and Engels held that socialism aimed to end class exploitation and also
re-establish the "metabolism" between people and the Earth.
This is impossible unless the profit motive is removed from determining
production in human society and a system of participatory democracy and
rational planning is built in its stead.
Engels argued that only the working people organised as "associated
producers" can "govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way".
This "requires something more than mere knowledge. It requires a complete
revolution in our hitherto existing mode of production, and simultaneously a
revolution in our whole contemporary social order."
Today, with climate change threatening life itself, the ecological
contradictions of capitalism have reached truly dire proportions. The
environmental crisis will undoubtedly play a far larger role in the demise
of the system than Marx and Engels realised 150 years ago.
Along with their contribution to ecology, another neglected fact about Marx
and Engels is that they were not merely political theorists or philosophers
- they were also dedicated activists who participated in the revolutionary
movements of their day.
They insisted that theory must be made "real" - it must be enriched and
developed through revolutionary practice - to have any real significance.
Marx reached this conclusion in 1845 when he was still very young. "The
philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways", he wrote.
"The point, however, is to change it."
[This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly issue #784
<http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2009/784> , February 25, 2009.Simon Butler
is a member of the Democratic Socialist Perspective <http://www.dsp.org.au>
, a Marxist organisation affiliated to the Socialist Alliance
<http://www.socialist-alliance.org> of Australia.]
Back to Talking Politics home
Atheism under attack
Thu Feb 19 09:59AM
Atheists are having a tough time of it. So tough, in fact, that
they've started banding together. Today, the not-so-snappily titled
National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Students forms in
central London, partly due to the hostility from campus faith groups
that individual societies face when setting up. Why has it come to
About 200 years ago, most of the progressive men of Europe presumed
religion would be dead by now. The enlightenment philosophers thought
the triumph of science and reason would turn men away from God.
Sometimes in Britain - arguably the least religious society in the
west - it feels that way. But the reality is very different.
A few years ago, another educated man called Samuel P Huntington
proposed an altogether different theory, neatly summarised as the
'clash of civilisations'. He posited that the main source of conflict
would centre around a handful of distinct cultures, with the primary
fault line being Islam and the west.
It was hopelessly reductionist, but it had the enviable quality of
chiming perfectly with its time. Shortly afterwards, planes were
flying into the Twin Towers in New York and the rest is history. Right
now, religion is one of the most - if not the most - important issue
in world politics.
In a global political system defined by the clash, atheists have
discovered something curious. Religious people hate them very much,
and they have organised against them with alarming speed and
efficiency. Perhaps it gives Muslims and Christians living in western
societies something to unite around. Regardless; the political
momentum is on their side.
Recently, the UN's rapporteur on human rights, who is tasked with
protecting freedom of speech, had his job description altered. The
council agreed to a Pakistani request for the rapporteur to also
tackle "abuses of free expression", including, rather shockingly,
"defamation" of religions and prophets.
In the UK, religious protections have grown in a subtler manner. Tony
Blair consistently rejected calls to discuss his deeply-held faith,
but this was not evident in his policy making. Faith schools were not
just tolerated, but encouraged. An attempt was made to outlaw
'religious hatred', including abuse or insult, although the Lords
managed to water it down after an eye-catching rearguard defence by a
motley collection of secularists, comedians, and free-thinkers.
Across the western world, religion has been elevated to a unique and
entirely unhelpful position - a position which ringfences it against
criticism or questioning. The only other qualities in this category
are things like race, sexuality and gender. But these are
qualitatively different. They cannot be changed. A black man does not
choose to be so, nor does a homosexual. Religion is about conviction
and belief. Its advocates call it faith and that is indeed a decent
description of belief that does not follow from reason or evidence.
But it does not somehow entitle it to preferential treatment.
The thought process that drove us to this undesirable state of affairs
hinges on the word 'freedom', which is itself massively unhelpful.
Freedom in and of itself does not mean anything. Its only meaning
derives from the words that follow it. Freedom to worship? Quite
right. Freedom to hurt people in the street? Absolutely not. But many
religious groups have framed the freedom to not have faith challenged
as part of the freedom of worship. They have argued that criticism is
an infringement of their right to be believers. It is not. It is
merely the price one pays to live in a free country.
It is unacceptable for atheist groups to be prevented from forming in
universities because faith groups deride them as negative. It is
unacceptable that atheist posters and banners are defaced when we
would react with outrage if Christian or Muslim posters were treated
in such a way. These are real world examples given to me by atheist
activists. They have every right to pursue their agenda as they see
fit. Prejudice against atheists is as bad as prejudice against anyone
Comments1 - 10 of 291
1. atheism is negative as it presupposes theism...
From gor_2834 on Thu Feb 19 10:08AM
2. Personally let the so called religous people do what they want.
It just shows what they are.I am glad that i had the freedom to believe
or not to believe.
From litejosie on Thu Feb 19 10:09AM
3. Personally let the so called religous people do what they want.
It just shows what they are.I am glad that i had the freedom to believe
or not to believe.
From litejosie on Thu Feb 19 10:09AM
4. A quite excellent article
From trevor.hendren on Thu Feb 19 10:12AM
5. I completely agree: I respect all faiths but follow none and can
see no evidence of a God either helping or hindering this world. Why
then should I, who passively and peacefully choses not to "have
faith", be ridiculed and threatened by those who allegedly follow a
benevolent deity who wishes to bring "peace on earth?"
From peterc101 on Thu Feb 19 10:14AM
6. A bible believing, God-honouring christian will never feel or
express hate against an atheist.If someone calling him/herself a
christian is found to be involved in any of the harming and hurtful
actions mentioned in this article, they would be disqualifying
themselves from being christian. A denomination or church membership
does not make you a christian, only a personal relationship with, and
personal faith in Father God,the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
defines a true believer.
From ryk.botes on Thu Feb 19 10:18AM
7. Look at 'The Brights' website, register your name and buy a badge.
From d.stevenson830 on Thu Feb 19 10:19AM
8. I am 100% in agreement with Ian's thinking. Michael
From micicunn on Thu Feb 19 10:22AM
9. Everyone believe what you like, but let's not argue about it ans
shove it in each others face. Religion should be a personal thing,
keep it that way!
From jmaddocks1975 on Thu Feb 19 10:22AM
10. I think it's time atheists started mobilising again.
From rudecorps on Thu Feb 19 10:22AM
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