A new motto for Capitalism Nature Socialism

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Joel Kovel writes in the June issue of the quarterly journal Capitalism Nature Socialism:

With this issue Capitalism Nature Socialism no longer calls itself an “international red-green journal of theory and politics,” but a “journal of ecosocialism.” We are not so foolish as to think this means that ecosocialism is substantially nearer than it was a few months ago, or even that the term is ready for definition. But the challenge of putting it into being seems more urgent with each piece of news about our planet’s disintegrating ecosystems, each manifestation of capital’s feckless power. The word comes up more and more in everyday discourse, and has even acquired a Wikipedia page, if not yet space in official dictionaries. It seems proper, then, for a journal to dedicate itself to its realization. Ecosocialism is a notion whose time must come if we are to save our species and innumerable others; it is a concept that needs a forum within which to take shape; and so Capitalism Nature Socialism is proud to offer itself as the servant of ecosocialist transformation.

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  • Contrary to what Wikipedia says, ecosocialism is not really an ideology – or at least, not a new one. Rather, it is better described as a movement, having an ideology rooted in the historical materialist method pioneered by Marx and Engels.It’s a movement that seeks to apply socialist theory and historical experience to the imminent world environmental crises – those of climate change, soil depletion, peak oil, fresh water depletion, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and all the other devastations inflicted on the planet by the relentless expansion of capitalist modes of production.Ecosocialism is a current within the large and somewhat amorphous “green” movement that includes liberal capitalists like Al Gore and social democrats like David Suzuki, as well as many varieties of leftists, anarchists, and “progressives”. Because of the widely-scattered politics of these elements, some of which are still thoroughly committed to the preservation of the capitalist system, it is important that socialists be clearly identified as an anti-capitalist movement, as a real alternative to capitalist reformism – as ecosocialists. Ecosocialism is distinguished by its critique of capitalism and neo-liberalism as inherently wasteful, destructive, expansionist, and exploitative, and by its perspective of fighting for a different kind of society. Inevitably, as the world environmental crisis deepens and the bankruptcy of capitalism becomes even more apparent, increasing numbers of people will be attracted to the socialist perspective and to the ecosocialist movement. In addition, ecosocialism can encompass many tendencies and strains within the socialist movement, serving as a kind of socialist united front on environmental issues. The Ecosocialist Manifesto of Kovel and Löwy, for example, speaks not in the voice of one tendency or faction but in terms of fundamental tenets of socialism. Only the most hidebound sectarian could find reason to disagree with it. This is not to say that ecosocialists do not or will not have disagreements with one another on many questions of analysis, strategy, and tactics; they do and they will. But humanity faces difficult times ahead in the near future, and socialists of all kinds will be called upon to work together against the forces that threaten our survival as a species. The very existence of an ecosocialist movement is an expression of our collective determination not to yield to barbarism.