From left field - Dec 11
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Bolivian president: Save the planet from capitalism
Evo Morales, Znet
Sisters and brothers, today our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth suffer; the extinction of animal and plant species; and the spread of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases.
One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations and territories are the condemned to disappear by the increase of the sea level.
Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called "developed" countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five million centuries.
Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the planet. Under Capitalism we are not human beings but consumers. Under Capitalism Mother Earth does not exist, instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury, ostentation and waste for a few, while millions in the world die from hunger in the world. In the hands of capitalism everything becomes a commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death ... and life itself.
Everything, absolutely everything, can be bought and sold and under capitalism. And even "climate change" itself has become a business.
(28 November 2008)
Also at Links. Evo Morales was elected President of Boliva in 2005.
Liquefied Natural Gas and Fossil Capitalism
Anna Zalik, Monthly Review
The contemporary ecological crisis places a new spin on the notion of the “resource curse,” evoking widespread concerns regarding hydrocarbon dependency. Whether environmental, in the form of global warming, or socio-political, through wars over oil, “fossil capitalism” is now understood as a global problem.1 The development of a global market in natural gas, heavily dependent on the development of the Liquefied Natural Gas
(LNG) industry, offers an example of a corporate-endorsed solution to the simultaneous ecological and economic “crises” associated with fossil capitalism. Yet, since 2004 a cross-continental mobilization against the development of LNG terminals in North America has successfully challenged the installation of some LNG infrastructure on the West Coast.2 These movements stress that the investment required to build the global gas industry displaces investment in renewables.
A key limitation on natural gas usage is the difficulty of transportation, particularly across oceans and over long distances.
... LNG development helps the oil and gas industry address some of fossil capitalism’s contradictions while creating others. The investment of surplus in LNG infrastructure allows for the use of excess capital in specific sites. Concurrently, certain social contradictions of the “state-tied” resource curse are avoided, transferring the product
out of relatively insecure settings and into more profitable ones. Given rising criticism of the oil and gas industry, however, the promotion and connection of LNG to the North American power grid must be accomplished. So industry aims to persuade legislators and the public that LNG has some intrinsic value in terms of conservation, the environment, and energy security. But providing a convincing argument for LNG could become increasingly difficult with recent assertions that drilling for shale gas in the United States could preclude the need for these imports.
The analysis below examines how the LNG industry is commonly conceived as a partial, stop-gap solution to the ecological and economic crises arising from fossil-fuel dependence. By looking at the overseas transfer of LNG from Nigeria to Mexico in order to power the U.S. energy grid, this article seeks to explain ongoing spatial transfers associated with “ecological imperialism.”
Anna Zalik teaches in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. ... Her research concerns the merging of industrial security and development aid interventions in sites of petroleum extraction and social resistance to extractive capital.
(November 2008 issue)
Where Are All The Socialists? Here, There and Everywhere
Harlan Baker, Portland Press Herald (Maine)
... During the recent election, the specter of socialism in its creeping form was raised in numerous op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, and accusations that Barack Obama was a "socialist." It is interesting that rarely has the press bothered to ask a socialist if the United States is really on the verge of a socialist revolution.
Being a card-carrying socialist -- yes, I pay dues to the Democratic Socialists of America -- I'd like to respond to the question of where the socialists are.
Socialism shares one thing in common with religion; there are many denominations and sects and they all claim to hold some higher truth. I don't claim to hold a higher truth. I do have a perspective on socialism, and that is, of course, open to disagreement.
Not all socialists are Marxists or atheists. Norman Thomas, the leader of the party in the 1930s and '40s, was an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Socialists do not believe nationalization of an industry, government buying stocks in banks or the subsides to auto makers makes the country socialist.
Socialism is about social ownership. That can take many forms, such as employee-owned co-ops. It also does mean an end to privately owned business. But, socialists would want to democratize large corporations with real worker and consumer representation.
The Socialist Party of Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas achieved high points respectively in 1912 and 1932, although the socialist-backed Robert Lafollette Sr., running on the Progressive ticket managed to net 17 percent of the popular vote.
After the 1956 campaign, the Socialist Party suspended its third-party presidential campaigns. Asking the movement's natural constituencies of labor, minorities and liberals to abandon the Democratic Party was proving fruitless.
In the 1960s, the Socialist Party adapted a strategy of working within the Democratic Party alongside its allies on the left to strengthen the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in the hopes that a new more left-wing party could be formed.
Not all socialists agreed with this strategy, and today a reconstituted Socialist Party fielded Brian Moore and Stewart Alexander for president and vice president respectively.
The International Socialists is another group that works outside the two-party system.
The largest socialist organization in the United States and one of the heirs of the socialist party of Eugene V. Debs is The Democratic Socialists of America, which is affiliated with the Socialist International along with the Canadian New Democratic Party.
The DSA is not a political party. It functions as sort of an American Fabian Society, attempting to bring socialist ideas into mainstream political debate and to help build anti-corporate social movements. Many of its members have worked in campaigns for Democrats.
But the DSA does not confine itself only to Democratic races. Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a registered independent, enjoyed wide support from the DSA.
The DSA has 25 chapters across the country. It has around 10,000 dues-paying members, not large by most standards but more than enough to fill a coffee house.
One of its founders was the late Michael Harrington, who was well known for his book "The Other America," which is said to have sparked the War on Poverty in the '60s, a war, by the way, that was lost on the battlefields of Vietnam.
Among the more well-known members of the DSA is Barbara Ehrenreich, whose book, "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America," was partly researched in Maine where she worked in a cleaning service.
Other members include Cornel West, Francis Fox Piven and Dolores Huerta. ...
Harlan Baker is active in the theatrical community in Portland, Maine.
(10 December 2008)
Also at Common Dreams. FWW, my political viewpoint is probably closest to Democratic Socialists and the Greens. The Democratic Socialists played a big role in American history but now have a sort of dusty, antique feel to them. They aren't as exciting as anarchists or even libertarians. But they do have a stolid common sense that I think will come back in fashion as the foreclosures and bankruptcies continue. -BA