4 Responses

  1. john tons July 29, 2010 at 11:35 pm |

    I have responded to article here because I was encouraged by Ian Angus’s Comments policy – constructive discussion and debate so I am rather taken aback that the editor himself should have engaged in an ad hominem rebuttal of my arguments.
    However, I will resist the temptation to respond in kind instead will abide by the rules of the site in responding to this criticism.
    There are dangers in merely extracting data from the Net.
    So lets start with Conservatives for Climate and Environment – had Ian been more familiar with left activism he would have been aware of strategies (usually employed by the Trots) to infiltrate organizations – my reason for supporting that group was to try and split the conservative vote at the election – a perfectly respectable left wing strategy.
    And I am no longer a member of that group for if you had done your research you would have found out that Helen Caldicott and I founded the Zero Carbon Network some 5 years ago and this year I organized a public forum to destroy the credibility of the nuclear movement.
    I can point to over 40 years involvement in left wing activism given I tend to prefer anarchist politics I regularly cross swords with marxists.
    My PhD work is on Global Justice had Ian bothered to ask I could have provided the references on which my response was based – all either left wing commentators or marxist philosophers:Schweickart, D. (2002). After Capitalism. Oxford, Rowman & Littlefield. Porritt, J. (2006). Capitalism as if the World Matters. London, Earthscan.
    As far as the comments about the population debate are concerned I have worked for much of my life in the area of migration policy as an advocate for migrants – Australia’s migration policy does no one any favours. I discuss that here http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10544 but for those who want a view other than mine all you need to do is look at Richard Dennis’s article here http://spgn.blogspot.com/ to see that there is nothing inconsistent with being progressive and left wing and supporting strategies to curb population growth.

  2. john tons May 24, 2010 at 3:30 am |

    Levi Straus’s quotation is on the money but much of the article is in the same danger as those Christians who determine everything by what would Jesus do.
    The young Marx wrote convincingly of the dangers of reification – the situation we are facing is essentially that.
    If we consider the four propositions at the heart of the discussion:
    (1) we can change the ends we have in mind and alter the social organization of scarcity;
    (2) we can change our technical and cultural appraisals of nature;
    (3) we can change our views concerning the things to which we are accustomed;
    (4) we can seek to alter our numbers.
    Then I would suggest that these are not alternative conclusions but four things that need to be done.

    We do need to make major changes to the ends we have in mind – this will take in the need to get away from the capitalist pre-occupation with economic growth. At the heart of that preoccupation is the necessity to keep people dissatisfied with what they have – so they keep accumulating useless goods reducing the natural resources.
    The second proposition needs to be pursued regardless of whether there is a population problem or not; we have created a natural world which is essentially a prothesis – we are no longer part of nature but seek to stand outside it – again it is part of the capitalist ethic. One only has to see the nature of the advertising that companies like Nestle undertake in the developed world bottled milk is touted as superior to mother’s milk – the message our technology is to be preferred over and above nature.
    Again the third view is critical we need develop the capacity to create a global network of independent sustainable communities.
    As far as population is concerned there is sufficient evidence that the way to tackle that is through lifting people out of poverty – capitalism will not do that; capitalism has an inherent tendency to blame the victim as can be the case here.
    However, Marx was wrong in his discussions with Malthus – had he paid more attention to biology he would have realised that or perhaps had he discussed the issue with Concordet he would have had a more nuanced view of the problem of population growth.
    The left needs to be part of this debate it is the one debate that cannot be conducted in terms of blaming the victim; we therefore need an articulate left wing willing to expose the weaknesses in the current social and economic organization that makes population growth such a problem.

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