There will be no future on a dead planet, socialist or otherwise. If the left is to seize power and bring our planet into the rational egalitarian age we envision, we will need to simultaneously tackle a host of environmental crises. Failure to do so will mean that our project is doomed from the onset. Even the most firmly grounded socialist society will not survive an ecological collapse, throwing the planet and its people back into the barbarism we are working so hard to overcome. Or worse.
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Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
On June 15, 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines blew its top in an eruption of staggering proportions. It sent an ash cloud 28 miles high, filling surrounding valleys with deposits 660 feet thick and destroying almost every bridge within 18 miles. Over 800 people lost their lives.
Referring to cultural Marxism, especially the Frankfurt School, Noam Chomsky once said, “I don’t find that kind of work very illuminating… The ideas that seem useful also seem pretty simple, and I don’t understand what all the verbiage is for.” While I think there’s much of value in the so-called Western Marxist tradition—for instance, I’m partial to Georg Lukács (more so than to Adorno and others in the Frankfurt School)—I have to admit I strongly sympathize with Chomsky.
The images of floods and mudslides in Kerala, known as “God’s own country”, should be a wake-up call — we should ask ourselves if we are on a sustainable development path.
In the 1970s deforestation was leading to landslides and floods in what is now Uttarakhand. The women of the mountains banded together as “Chipko” to stop the logging. I became a volunteer in the Chipko movement. After 1978’s devastating floods, the government realised that the small revenues it collected from extractive forestry in the fragile hills were insignificant in the context of the costs of flood destruction.
The Club of Rome is inextricably linked to the legendary report that it commissioned to a group of MIT researchers in 1972, “The Limits to Growth.” Today, nearly 50 years later, we still have to come to terms with the vision brought by the report, a vision that contradicts the core of some of humankind’s most cherished beliefs. The report tells us that we cannot keep growing forever and that we have to stop considering everything we see around us as ours by divine right.
n August 1921, sheriff’s deputies in West Virginia — later joined by federal troops — massacred striking mineworkers using machine guns and aerial bombardment, in what’s now known as the Battle of Blair Mountain.
Nearly a century later, the government is again going to war in support of mine owners by deregulating coal-fired power plants. This time, the target of the war isn’t striking workers — it’s the public.
There are now more than 700 million obese people worldwide, 108 million of them children, reported the New York Times in 2017. In Brazil, food giant Nestle sends vendors door to door hawking its high-calorie junk food and giving customers a full month to pay for their purchases. Nestle calls the junk food hawkers, who are themselves obese, “micro-entrepreneurs.”
Big Food is increasingly targeting poor countries as “emerging markets” to please Wall Street and shareholders––perhaps because getting people fat and hooked on junk food in rich countries has plateaued.
In the light of the devastating floods of 2018 many people are coming forward with suggestions for the future of Kerala’s development. I too came up with a ten point agenda for Kerala.