Friday, November 15, 2013

Ecology Against Capitalism - John Bellamy Foster

A series of essays critiquing the relationship between capitalism and the non-human world, John Bellamy Foster employs a marxist perspective to describe the contradictions wrought by our global economic system.  Modern, economic, attempts to measure the immeasurable, to bring nature into the balance sheet, are seen by Foster to be both necessary aspects, and  unavoidable difficulties for capitalism. Examining the environmental debates (crisis?) of the 1980s and 1990s, these short essays variously touch on contemporary issues of technology and human freedom, while integrating more scholarly examinations of economic and social theory.

Throughout, Foster emphasizes the necessity for broad-scale social transformation to address growing human-caused, environmental degradation and transformation. This is largely grounded upon what he sees as the inextricable linking of the dominant political powers to the economic levers of influence. The uninitiated is left to imagine that such ties have only strengthened in the ensuing years.

Latent in Foster's critique (and it seems in most marxist criticisms) is the notion that society as currently constructed sacrifices the many at the alter of the few. Though the alienation of people from the world may be an issue which obscures our true relationships amongst each other and the world, left unclear is why people are not more outraged? The insights of a marxist approach, though they may run contrary to numerous, dominant, western paradigms, are not that irreconcilable with different approaches to knowing and governance. Why then, do people not raise more vocal oppositions? Are we silenced more than we realize? Do we simply ignore the disconnects in the world around us? Maybe it is that the rhetoric has become so demonized, but such critiques always smack a bit of paranoia. If we cannot provide an adequate rebuttal, why do we not therefore change our own minds, expectations, and approaches? What is the passage through which concepts must navigate to become reality?