All entries for Wednesday 08 February 2012
February 08, 2012
Solutions or responses welcome.
Current developments in Marxist ecology point to how the capitalist project, with its issue of the metabolic rift, is arriving at a dead end. Naomi Klein's identification of disaster capitalism, in The Shock Doctrine, is one example of how capitalism is reaching its limit in geographical exploitation of resources and now has to manufacture crises in the supply chain of resources to generate market instability and open up new markets.
New markets is a buzzphrase at the high end of free market capitalist systems. New resources, new ecologies; these are overlooked in favour of the global hunt for the most profitable area of exploitation, which can only grow the rift between the human/nature dynamic. Yet ecology's response, as a perspective, is now one that increasingly not only accepts, but asserts, the fact that humanity = nature, is a subset of. So we are only destroying ourselves as part of the planet we are destroying.
Recently, though (OK, about ten minutes ago) I've begun to have doubts about the methodology of Marxist ecologists. The method of capitalist critique is one that I've seen elsewhere, such as in union battles with employers. Searching through law, through social structures, for a valid critical approach to defend workers' rights, union legal teams often have to fall back on an approach that they hope will create valid change, or, more than likely, deter continued detrimental change. So, for example, in recent UK battles, on a local level, unions are attempting to exploit Health & Safety laws as a way to find leverage in increasingly hostile-to-employees Employment Law. Prior to that, in my limited union experience, the struggle centred on cases of unfair dismissal, harrassment and so on, but these laws, as I understand it, have been tightened to protect employers.
So, a model arises in which unions select a cause, one that is effectively within the scope of a 'new market' in terms of being a battleground that hasn't been fought over before. The problem as I see it lies in how the environmental movement, by developing into social ecology, has merely found a new market to exploit in its anti-capitalist battleground.
In other words, from this perspective, the anti-capitalist movement in the form of the ecological movement, is adopting a capitalist model by which to launch its attack on capitalism. This feels as much a psychological conditioning in myself, however: that I am trained to read through capitalist structures, and training further to identify capitalist structures. Yet I can't help feeling, underlying all this, that the futility of the alternative PR project is futile because it isn't drawing on an alternative to capitalism: ancient religious fundaments, or perhaps something so antiquated - barter systems, foraging, similar social structures that are improbable in light of current population scales - that the new approach will defy capitalist structures utterly.
It's easy to think yourself into a bind when you haven't read enough, or the right books. But all this unloading of chest-weights is helpful while you're on the road to change.