Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 17, 2015

Water, capitalism and catastrophism

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film,fracking,Global Warming — louisproyect @ 2:47 pm

Living Under the Shadow of a Sixth Extinction

Water, Capitalism and Catastrophism


Two films concerned with water and environmental activism arrive in New York this week. “Groundswell Rising”, which premieres at the Maysles Theater in Harlem today, is about the struggle to safeguard lakes and rivers from fracking while “Revolution”, which opens at the Cinema Village next Wednesday, documents the impact of global warming on the oceans. Taking the holistic view, one can understand how some of the most basic conditions of life are threatened by a basic contradiction. Civilization, the quintessential expression of Enlightenment values that relies on ever-expanding energy, threatens to reduce humanity to barbarism if not extinction through exactly such energy production.

This challenge not only faces those of us now living under capitalism but our descendants who will be living under a more rational system. No matter the way in which goods and services are produced, for profit or on the basis of human need, humanity is faced with ecological constraints that must be overcome otherwise we will be subject to a Sixth Extinction. Under capitalism, Sixth Extinction is guaranteed. Under socialism, survival is possible but only as a result of a radical transformation of how society is organized, something that Marx alluded to in the Communist Manifesto when he called for a “gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.”

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  1. “how can the planet survive when the benefits of bestowing the benefits of “civilization” across the planet so that everyone can enjoy the lifestyle of a middle-class American (or German more recently) remains the goal of socialism?”

    Well, to be brutally honest, that’s EXACTLY the kind of socialism that I’m interested in

    I would imagine my fellow workers in Belmopan, Kumasi, Beira, Urumqi, Yongan, Aden, Omdurman and Tirana would agree with me on that – they’re no better than me, so they deserve all the nice things I have

    I have zero interest in the “socialism” of scarcity and universal poverty

    If that’s the only way to “save the world….. let the world die

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler (@GREGORYABUTLER) — April 17, 2015 @ 9:53 pm

  2. So who cares if the sturgeon is history. We still have farm-raised tilapia.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 18, 2015 @ 12:15 am

  3. Maybe there is a medium (not sure if it’s happy or not), given these facts:

    1) Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
    2) The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
    3) The bottom half of the world’s population (that is, somewhere around 3.5 BILLION people) owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world. (these are from Forbes magazine: http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2014/01/23/the-85-richest-people-in-the-world-have-as-much-wealth-as-the-3-5-billion-poorest/)

    So, if that fat bunch of wealth stuck at the top is redistributed the way it should be, at least a very happy majority of the humanity can enjoy the wealth, and will not have to share only the misery and poverty. Such can happen under a healthy, democratic socialism, in which the majority of those who produce all the goods and the wealth can actually enjoy the benefits of the things they produce right now.

    Additionally, a lot of the value produced under such democratic and socialist conditions will not be wasted on a whole host of superfluous industries that contribute to a lot of energy consumption that goes merely into, what I would call, ideological-commercial industries: advertising, for example. A lot of the surplus value produced by workers in specific industries (around the world) go into advertising. Further, a lot of the industries (like agriculture and animal husbandry) do not have to be so concentrated in giant monopolies, and under a rational planning regime can be spread around and localized a lot more, and produce on a smaller scale that is not so devastating to the land or the animals. We don’t really have to eat so much meat. The ‘need’ for it is created artificially through, for example, advertising.

    So, maybe the solutions are not as difficult to figure out, once we get passed this thing called world capitalist system.

    Comment by Reza F. — April 18, 2015 @ 1:17 am

  4. The sturgeon is not history and it is a very very safe bet that it never will be! Yet Louis unthinkingly makes it appear a big worry! So – when it is evidently not a worry that very valuable creatures can be, are now and will be more so in the future, bred – even to the point of massive overproduction – the question arises; what thinking is causing such obvious foolishness to tumble out? No one can blame marxism -unrepentant or otherwise- for this green reaction and it is reaction as even the slightest pause to think would surely still the typing as aquaculture is thousands of years old while it’s true that it’s only decades into being established under capitalism as a firmly scientific process that has seen one species after another made farmable. Abalone and Tuna are joining the price march downwards as is (on land) even truffles! Naturally the snobs will tell us all how the wild product is far superior etc but hey they were never on an average proletarians diet anyway. Things get better so the greens worry if it’s sustainable!

    The point is that despite this not being an issue greens like Louis mush it all in to their general worry about the world and wonder why there is zero market for their purported electoral product that is not already taken by the greens that are not encumbered by the unpopular marxist tag issue.

    This is exactly the same mush served up by the loony Kasama sectarians in the old thread
    Living Species Disappearing… What Will We Do? | Kasama Project
    several years ago when Mike Ely was demonstrating how stupid he could be and Gregory A. Butler was exposing him.

    My contention is that a serious marxist would accept that sturgeon of all kinds are not in any real danger of extinction and then re-start the discussion.

    As to the comment by Reza F.
    ‘wealth stuck at the top is redistributed the way it should be…’

    After our coming proletarian revolution the owning of all the steel mills or and iron ore mines, car factories etc will not be ‘redistributed’ so that we all become equal share holders.

    Have a go at this article http://www.lastsuperpower.net/docs/unemploy-rev9/

    BTW energy consumption will go up and up as we reach for the stars.

    More industries like agriculture with animal and even plants will be giant enterprises and greater transport will continue to shrink the world and increase standards of living, and smaller scale production that is so devastating to the land or the animals will continue to history’s dustbin.

    Whatever people choose to eat (including meat, fish, dairy, even mushrooms and truffles) the process of industrial production will continue to transform the way we humans get products and the variety available to us including the travel that was so rare in the past will grow and naturally with rising living standards our ‘needs’ will continue to expand!!

    Comment by patrickmul — April 22, 2015 @ 4:09 pm

  5. The sturgeon is not history and it is a very very safe bet that it never will be!


    Are you some kind of cretin making such a statement here without bothering to back it up? Don’t waste bandwidth like this again.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 22, 2015 @ 7:10 pm

  6. patrickmul, I do understand what the revolution is supposed to do after the workers smash the capitalist state and create a new form of state: means of production become public property.

    The question of *distribution* however is a separate matter. The wealth produced by the workers, even in a socialist society, can be distributed in a healthy manner, or (as in China today) mostly distributed to billionaires and the rich. My reference to the wealth stuck at the top was to be taken in this light. But, you seem in too much of a hurry to prove everybody wrong without even clarifying or attempting to clarify anything. Of course, that is your prerogative.

    As for the size of the farming entities, I am not sure why you have a fetish with large scale. In today’s Japan, for example, most of the rice production is by small farmers, and they do just great, at the same time that they preserve a rich variety of rice strands which provide far more enjoyment, contrasted to a situation where the only source of rice is what comes of an Uncle Ben box produced by some giant corporation. Additionally, locally produced goods do not need to used such enormous amounts of energy to transport. What exactly is the benefit of rice (or any farm product) having to travel thousands of miles to get to those who need it? Not much; whereas the harms are very obvious.

    Yes, of course, technological progress can help us get more production, but larger is not always better. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it is not better. When it comes to agriculture, though, large scale repetitious use of land for the same crops is actually more devastating to the land. Small scale farmers, can more easily rotate crops, etc. Those who make a fetish of large size, in my opinion, are avoiding the hard task of coming up with concrete solutions for concrete problems.

    Comment by Reza F. — April 22, 2015 @ 11:27 pm

  7. Louis everyone can see the sentence is immediately backed up with the self evident implication that the sturgeon is a valuable species that people have, are, and will continue to take a productive interest in; therefore the issue of sturgeon extinction need not in any way concern proletarians and Marxists interested in producing abundance for all humanity in an increasingly pleasant environment.

    In your part of the world salmon fishing once had similar issues of diminishing catches (that also produced similar alarmism) and those issues have been and will continue to be addressed to the point that you are not alarmed about the issue closest to you but rather look to the other side of the world and worry about the sturgeon instead.

    There was NO real prospect of extinction overtaking the salmon despite the mathematical ability at one point to actually plot the decade that the obvious decline was going to turn into an equally obvious reality of an extinction event!

    There is similarly now no issue for sturgeon, and there is nothing even remotely cretin like in pointing this self-evident production issue out when you have thrown such a howler of a pointless green worry at Gregory A Butler – the 1st to comment on your general worries.

    This type of issue – of worrying about places where the green thinker is not – is typical and familiar. That is why I (another Marxist) have brought people’s attention to the old Kasama thread where the cultist Mike Ely (who also claims to be a Marxist and like Louis is also very green) was displaying a similar attitude as Louis – while simultaneously sock puppeting as ‘Nando’, and proposing to ban people from the site! IMV it really is an important thread and included contributions from Gangbox (Gregory A Butler), myself, Arthur and David Jackmanson,

    This IMV very important thread displayed the same sectarian approach that was the fatal flaw in TNS, and that Louis has continued on with after the crazies destroyed the place as a site of real debate. The numbers now at Kasama and TNS say most of what is required and lacking real debate all the sites that carry on in this manner are doomed from any POV.

    The numbers involved and the quality of the debate are on show at TNS.

    Reza, I don’t know you and I have not been bothering with Louis but I have had an interest in the North Star and Louis knows that I am anything but a cretin. His ‘Don’t waste bandwidth like this again.’ threat is quite deliberate. He does not want debate with the likes of me on his site and despite my interest in the North Star he will not drop his sectarianism and let a hundred flowers bloom and talk out in the open to and about us ‘terrible’ Australian Marxists.

    What is not out in the open was and is STILL bizarre when what was and is required is open debate. Anyway we can talk about that later but for now keep this
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RjNS87oicIlvSZl4TW9k-HkBycfMu_2WiWXJNtEk6bE/edit#gid=0 There are some very important debates at the old TNS and they are mostly shown by the numbers. You can see almost at a glance how Louis participated in the debates at TNS. He was ‘often’ published but people just were not interested in his material (you can find him easy enough none of his articles on memory are at the top row). The ‘Australian’ contribution was quite different.

    Real debate about issues that had – for most – never even been considered as open to debate broke a way out of the old dead end. But as I say we can return to The North Star issues later. Right now the issue for me is the green scaremongering that Louis is pushing in this thread. “how can the planet survive when the benefits of …” basically we westerners consume too much is the take home point.

    I second Gregory A Butler ‘Well, to be brutally honest, that’s EXACTLY the kind of socialism that I’m interested in’ and I agree that workers of the world ‘deserve all the nice things I have’ and I also ‘have zero interest in the “socialism” of scarcity and universal poverty’ but then so do most people. That is why this type of ‘socialist’ thinking is collapsed. That is why all the ecumenical junk is being attempted and once again failing. It is being turned to in desperation and because it is not genuine it won’t work.

    Green sectarians pretending that they have got a good grasp of what is going on in the world and also pretending that they are open to real debate will go the same way as the 3 letter anti-war lemmingists. Pseudoleftism is exhausted and Kashma Sawant electoral politics just reflect that. Yes there is a market for green politics and always has been but there are not 2 markets for it.

    Reza just so we are clear, petit bourgeois Japanese farmers do well at the expense of Japanese proletarians whose standards of living are directly impacted by the trade barrier ‘subsidies’ that they end up paying to their better off owning class farmers. When I was in Japan more than 25 years back the price of rice was 11 times the world price! Think about that for a minute. That was their staple diet and the Japanese workers were being done in the eye! Efficient Australian rice growers were being prevented from selling cheap rice to the Japanese and that ruling class had all manner of disengenuous excuses for imposing these trade restrictions. The Japanese owning classes are quite ruthless in how they conduct their trade and they are not interested in workers! They are quite gross in their racism and the nationalism that is on full display is as revolting as China and Pakistan and it may not be as gross as the racism of the Saudi ruling elites but then again it may be!

    Communists are global minded; we are free traders. Locavorism is anathema to people who sing the Internationale. In the last Great Depression ‘beggar thy neighbor’ policies made everything much worse! It will do the same this time as well. Cloaking trade restricting policies with a green feelgood wrapping won’t alter the fact that adopting those policies will spiral standards of living downwards.

    There are these kind of trade restrictions apparent with European Union trade barriers particularly directed against African farmers and also east European farmers. Africans and poorer Europeans are often blocked from markets where they could in many instances undercut the farm producing petit bourgeois of Europe. This is all quite well known just as the Chinese have been doing some undercutting over the years as people across the globalizing world have seen their standards of living rise so dramatically and that has sent the greens into their sustainable chant. Is it sustainable they ALL worry. We can look into that if real debate opens up.

    You have to understand the revolutionary issues before ‘the workers smash the capitalist state and create a new form of state…’ Consumption by the rich is really not that big an issue. ‘It’ is not really about distribution. Once the wage slave system is abolished ‘It’ is mostly about production.

    Actually capitalism has enabled ‘a rich variety of rice strands which provide far more enjoyment,’ because giant corporations produce so much choice that greens complain about it! Go into any supermarket and open your eyes.

    The following is how I put these issues when carbon pricing (now come and gone note was being debated here in Australia).

    Picture a graph that situates a 50yr old in the centre; to the left and down is a 75yr old, to the right and up is a 25yr old, at the very top is her new born baby, and at the bottom is the 100yr old. So we have a diagonal line from left to right ascending as living standards have over the last 100 years through 5 generations.

    The dramatic trend line is what our standard of living has been doing. This means that the price of commodities like power and petrol has continued to fall. So have air fares and everything else as they were invented and came on stream.

    That baby has a better chance of leading a long and healthy life than the four before her, and it is very difficult to find a 75 year old that is not aware that their parents had it tougher and that they owe their own standard of living to the work of their parents, and so on backwards and what’s more that their kids have had it better than them from their 75yr efforts to build on what had been handed down.

    Every measure I care to think about has refuted the thinking that has infected liberals since Carson started spreading the green poison that ought to have peaked in foolishness with the 1968 Population Bomb.

    That book was no doubt read and ‘loved’ by many older people that currently think Brown and Milne [NBgreen parliamentary reps.] have something useful to say about the way the world works. If you want a good laugh about what alarmists have been (and really still are) on about have a look at it; now there are just too many people apparently and we are consuming the planet. Of course Ehrlich lost the bet. We are heading to the 50th anniversary of this best seller, and it is clear that junk Malthusians like Ehrlich have been refuted by practice and what’s more that trend is not going to turn around.

    So, it is quite something to watch these same older alarmists raving about what this generation is leaving for the next, and the equally revolting carry on of greenie youngsters claiming that this or that must be done because really the world belongs to them no less and that other generations (that have helped build the standard) are not really doing this but are actually destroying their world! We are (unlike our parents or theirs) destroying the future. We are using stuff up not producing stuff. It’s just the same old pathetic green twaddle.

    Naturally, they want a decent hospital made with steel and cement, while naming the steel and cement makers as not the standard of living producers, but the big polluters!

    Naturally, they want a tractor and a header not a horse drawn rig that those of 75 can possibly recall from the era of the last great capitalist depression. But the industrialized society that produces these wonderful hunger smashing machines is condemned as nothing more than wasteful consumerist society.

    The hunger that was so common as to not even be reported 75yrs ago is still around but in smaller proportion in Somalia etc., but is that youngster out campaigning for faster industrialization to rid the world of it? No, they are busy listening to the revolting Flannery

    And in the US case that would now be the revolting Naomi Klein I suppose!

    Green locavore twaddle is easily seen through if you make some kind of effort ecause anyone not caught up in carbon hysteria involved in the logistics field can educate you about just how bad the old days were. http://www.stevesmaritime.com/boxship.html

    All your worry about ‘enormous amounts of energy to transport…’ can only mean one thing for my Sunday drives, and any flying I may want to spend my income on. I can’t fly on solar power! You want the growth in standards stopped!

    You say ‘What exactly is the benefit of rice (or any farm product) having to travel thousands of miles to get to those who need it? Not much; whereas the harms are very obvious.’ and that is exactly where you have gone wrong. Standards of living have risen and productive efficiency is critical. Your ‘concrete solutions for concrete problems’ is all now based on what is now nothing deeper than ‘carbon hysteria’. That’s now what you are reduced to.

    Well the Australian people demonstrated what the masses will do to carbon taxing proposals in democratic elections. So whatever you are convinced about (global warming now termed climate change) you will have to rethink what is to be done about it. Carbon taxing was forced on people and the workers then voted to ensure that it was repealed. Yet how many purported leaders of the working classes are still on the wrong side of that debate? Patrick.

    Comment by patrickmul — April 23, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

  8. Louis everyone can see the sentence is immediately backed up with the self evident implication that the sturgeon is a valuable species that people have, are, and will continue to take a productive interest in;


    What kind of fucking obtuse idiot are you? This is a Marxist blog and you need to have some engagement with Marxism if you plan to post comments here. “People” have a productive interest in sturgeon? What kind of class analysis is that? “People” have a productive interest in a clean and productive Gulf of Mexico but that does not have any impact on the continued growth of offshore drilling. “People” have a productive interest in the honeybee’s role in plant germination but that does not have any impact on the reduction of pesticides that scientists blame for their disappearance. For Marxists, society is not made up of “people”. It is made up of contending classes. You really need to read Karl Marx and stop wasting time here with pro-industry bullshit.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 23, 2015 @ 3:12 pm

  9. Reza F as you can see from that nasty and disingenuous effort Louis is not trying to deal with the criticism being leveled directly at him in a comradely manner.

    There is no need for this ‘What kind of fucking obtuse idiot are you?’ opening at all.

    And then comes the hardly veiled threat ‘This is a Marxist blog and you need to have some engagement with Marxism if you plan to post comments here.’ as his attempt to scurry past a major effort to engage with you and others.

    Out comes a phoney class worry-er flag.

    “People” have a productive interest in sturgeon? What kind of class analysis is that?’

    It is of course the same types of people that solved the salmon problem (that Louis was referred to above) that will ensure that sturgeon continue to provide pristine product to the table of anyone who buys the product. It is ALL the classes of people as they play their various rolls. Owning class directors of wage slaves will of course play a role as will the wage slaves as will the inteligencia. Actual slaves and slave owners won’t of course because well the world has moved past that era; nor will peasants and possibly not even aristocrats as they steadily depart this world for the history books. But definitely all manner of modern classes of people actually have an interest in salmon and as all know even native peoples – in all states of connection to their historical background and in all states of connection to the fish – will all have contributed to solving that once problem that does not concern Louis currently.

    So as good marxists we can now leave behind the issue of who are the people that have an interest in and who will contribute to the solution of the sturgeon issue and get to the more interesting question of what curious thinking presents as working class warrior when merely green worry-er?

    Who is now not clear on the directly comparable salmon model as the solution? What style of thinking did not see the obvious? Marxist? I think we can rule that out. I assert that no class or peoples has an interest in the extinction of either the salmon or the sturgeon. But it is the classes generated by modernity that will solve the issues of modernity and ensure that both species loved by consumers caught and processed by workers under the direction of the owning classes continues to exist long after the services of the owning classes have been dispensed with.

    Actually despite the quick shift to ‘bad’ offshore oil the same basic set of issues apply to that commodity. All manner of peoples have the interest so in essence they collectively produce that result. More oil will be produced from better platforms with better conditions for the workers involved etc and it does no class any good to lose saleable commodity into the sea. All quite obvious. Bigger industry yet cleaner result is the year in year out observable progress of industrial processes. Working classes dispensing with the owning classes will continue the process and even improve upon it.

    Take the production of ships to transport oil. Workers will build them in the year before and the year after the revolution that dispenses with this system straight out of the 16th century. But what about pirates? Will workers deal with them? You bet!

    As for bee’s I live in Australia and we have similar farming practices yet no bee problem, I understand that a mite is involved in the bee die off. Nevertheless I won’t pursue this diversion other than to again point out how many owning class people have an interest in ensuring that bee problems are given an A grade research effort and that in due course good results will be forthcoming and that any contention between the various owners will be resolved to ensure that these particular workers are continued into the future as workers with no chance of any revolution.

    So Reza don’t worry about people claiming to be a marxist even an unrepentant one when the practice is to avoid substance. Just ignore people who hide behind labels and concentrate on work like http://www.lastsuperpower.net/docs/unemploy-rev That is exactly the class-based analysis that we ought to be up dating for the 21st century crisis of capitalism that is grinding on across the globe. Patrick

    Comment by patrickmul — April 23, 2015 @ 5:11 pm

  10. What a fucking imbecile, assuring us that “in our part” of the world, salmon are in no danger of extinction because the problem is being “addressed”. Well, the fact is that sockeye salmon have already experienced 47 percent extinction according to Gregory J. Bryant, Orlay W. Johnson and Jeffrey J. Hard. 2007. Pacific Salmon Extinctions: Quantifying Lost and Remaining Diversity. Conservation Biology. 21(4): 1009-1020. I don’t think I have run into such garbage in the name of Marxism since Frank Furedi’s sect was publishing LM. At least they have the honesty to admit that they are no longer Marxist.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 23, 2015 @ 5:55 pm

  11. More on salmon extinction:


    Extinction threat to wild salmon
    By Helen Briggs

    Science and nature reporter, BBC News

    Wild salmon on Canada’s west coast are being driven to extinction by parasites from nearby fish farms, a study claims.

    Wild pink salmon around the Broughton Archipelago are declining rapidly and will die out within 10 years if no action is taken, say researchers.

    They say the data, published in Science, raises serious concerns about the global expansion of aquaculture.

    Sea lice from farms are known to infect wild salmon, but until now the impact on wild populations has been uncertain.

    “The impact is so severe that the viability of the wild salmon populations is threatened,” said lead researcher Martin Krkosek from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

    Modelling studies

    Dr Krkosek and colleagues compiled data on the numbers of pink salmon in rivers around the central coast of British Columbia.

    It means that the probability of extinction is 100% and the only question is how long it is going to take

    They compared populations of salmon that had come into contact with salmon farms with those that had not been exposed, from 1970 to the present day.

    Using a mathematical model of population growth rates, they show that sea lice from industrial fish farms are reducing the numbers of wild pink salmon – a Pacific salmon species – to the extent that the fish could be locally extinct in eight years or less.

    Dr Krkosek said the population growth rate was “severely depressed”.

    “It means that the probability of extinction is 100% and the only question is how long it is going to take,” he told BBC News.

    Natural parasites

    Scientists say commercial open-net salmon farms are a “haven” for sea lice – naturally occurring parasites that attach to the skin and muscle of salmon.

    Mature fish can survive being infested by a few lice but tiny juvenile salmon are particularly vulnerable to attack.

    They come into contact with sea lice when they swim past fish farms on their migratory routes from rivers to the sea.

    “Salmon farming breaks a natural law,” explained study co-author Alexandra Morton, director of the Salmon Coast Field Station, located in the Broughton Archipelago.

    “In the natural system, the youngest salmon are not exposed to sea lice because the adult salmon that carry the parasite are offshore. But fish farms cause a deadly collision between the vulnerable young salmon and sea lice. They are not equipped to survive this, and they don’t.”

    Scientists say there are a number of solutions to the problem, including moving farms away from rivers used by wild salmon or putting farmed salmon in pens that are completely sealed off from the surrounding environment.

    “The most obvious thing to do is to move the farm out of the way of the wild fish,” Dr Krkosek told BBC News.

    “Don’t put them on the migration route, and don’t put them near the spawning rivers. Another option is to move to closed containment technology where the net pen is replaced with a physical barrier that prevents the exchange of parasites – that would solve the problem too.”

    National treasure

    Dr Krkosek said the impact of fish farms on wild salmon has been “an emotionally, politically and economically charged debate” in Canada.

    “Salmon are considered a natural treasure to Canadians, but salmon farming has a lot of economic opportunity – we really need economic activity to supplement coastal economies where fisheries and other resource centres are not doing as well,” he explained.

    “So there are economic benefits to having salmon farms, but the way that it is currently being done is very damaging to the environment and there are better ways of doing it.”

    The report in Science has implications for other parts of the world where salmon is farmed, such as Norway and Scotland.

    Other species of salmon are known to become infected with sea lice, but they vary in their ability to withstand this.

    Sid Patten, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, said the Canadian research bore “little resemblance to the situation in Scotland”.

    He said fish farmers, wild fish interests and the Scottish government had been working together for many years around the north-west coast and islands to develop local area management plans “for the benefit of both wild and farmed salmon”.

    “I am delighted to report that there are very positive results coming from this process such as increased numbers of wild salmon returning to some rivers,” he said.

    “This summer, the Scottish government presented our work to the Canadians who were very interested in exploring a similar model for Canada.”

    Comment by louisproyect — April 23, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

  12. Patrick,

    I am not scared of the label “petty bourgeois”. Petty bourgeoisie CAN present revolutionary solutions, it’s just that they are usually not CONSISTENT revolutionaries, the way a conscious working class party can be (and even the later CAN be consistent, but we have seen plenty of examples of how they frequently have not been very consistent!). So, please don’t use the term as an epithet, as it is simply a sociological category and doesn’t mean much beyond that. At least not to me.

    I used the example of Japan’s rice production, as compared to that of the U.S., to show that small farms can in fact produce much higher quality of a product consumed by a population. I didn’t say the Japanese model is a socialist model. I was comparing *two capitalist* methods of producing rice. In other words, I was comparing apples to apples.

    The price of the Japanese rice is (you are right) high, but it is commensurate with income levels (I lived in Japan for eight years, and know the general prices of most edible goods) and commensurate with the price of all goods. Also, there are far fewer Japanese people who go hungry as contrasted to the much higher numbers (as percentage of total population) of people going hungry in the U.S. Besides, pricing of products is something that can easily be controlled and managed should the state be a workers’ state. In addition, the point you raise sounds too much like the concerns raised by the U.S. trade representatives when they want to push Japan to “open its markets”.

    As for *production* and *distribution*, they are both extremely important. One of the biggest economic-political problems that both the Soviet Union and China faced (regarding the development of a socialist economy) centered on both these key issues. Production goes hand in hand with consumption (as any studious reader of Marx and Lenin should know). Meaning, to produce, the producers need to consume all manner of products. Those products are in turn produced by a number of other sectors. Which means, distribution becomes very important. The distribution issues are also related to whether or not property is simply collectivized or has become public property (two different forms of ownership), or is still owned by individuals. This, in turn, affects which products are to be produced as commodities and which products are not commodities. All of these are simultaneously political issues: issues that, again, confounded both the Soviets and the Chinese, and they came up with different solutions, neither of which were perfect and both of which caused further, secondary and tertiary problems down the line. See for example this piece by Mao, commenting on Stalin’s economic plans: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-8/mswv8_66.htm

    I am not suggesting this document to you because I am a Maoist. I am not a Maoist, nor a Stalinist, nor a Trotskyist. For me all these “ists” are deviations from the spirit of Marx and Lenin’s ideas. I started reading Marx and Lenin when I was seventeen, and have gone back to their writings again and again for the past more-than-thirty-some years. I am suggesting the document to you, just so you can see the real problems faced by those who were trying to build a socialist economy.

    Revolutions happen in real societies with varying degrees of capitalist (uneven) development, and the question of land ownership, agriculture and the peasantry is a hugely important and complex question. I can understand that in countries like the U.S. and Australia, where no feudalism ever existed as a social formation, people are prone to ignore the peasant question as a things of the past. But, more than 90% of humanity HAS had a feudal past, and the questions of land ownership, farming methods and the farmers’ relation to the land are all huge political issues that have to be addressed.

    Of course, we can do a reverse-Pol Pot and just kill off all the peasants, then bring in “agricultural proletariat” as some extreme versions of Stalinism. But, if that is not a solution that socialists and communists can live with (and they definitely should not live with such “solutions”), then all the issues I point out above must find a humane solution.

    So, NO, Patrick, I have not been “reduced” to carbon-imprint counting. You are creating a straw man: you are simplifying and distorting my argument, or else you are unwilling to see the problem with your own “one-size fits all” approach.


    Comment by Reza F. — April 23, 2015 @ 9:39 pm

  13. Reza thank you for honestly and openly engaging.

    Looks like we have a similar background as I have been doing that kind of reading for the last 40 years myself. My Marxism is rather orthodox and I would describe myself as a Maoist except that causes such confusion in the U.S. where the RCP cult has damaged the ‘brand’ to the point of code for loony. But given the absence of a genuine left and given the prominence of pseudoleft thinking generally all these expressions are pretty well useless now.

    To be clear about the petit bourgeois bit I never fling about class as any kind of epithet. One of my heroes is the Countess Markievicz, and then there is the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury even with his -pre-zionist- imperialist errors, great aristocrats both. Even within the working classes 100% correct people are extremely rare gems; with most of us scraping along doing the best we can. In short, I am not fundamentally against petit bourgeois, or even big bourgeois people, and even members of the lumpen proletariat are not frowned on by me. Everyone gets a fair go with me until they show they do not deserve that civil approach.

    I accept that the reality of their class interest compels the proletariat to liberate all of humanity, and that they are not holders of an innate goodness, so I am not much for workerism either. I fully agree with you ‘it is simply a sociological category and doesn’t mean much beyond that.’ But my policies as a politically active Marxist is to promote the proletariat to power, (for that very purpose of general liberation and releasing the productive capacities of humanity generally) so I’m not interested in attempting to preserve the economic advantages of any owning class and I don’t support local farmers or shopkeepers against huge supermarket chains for example. I buy on the basis of value for money like most people. The eternal quality and quantity issues concern me daily as I have a very limited income and a family.

    An issue that we are interested in, in this thread is in the quality of small scale production from various POV’s. You say big is not always better. Well that is just a truism because niche activities are often filled by the nimble small producer. But the big issues in food and transport, clothing and products to build shelter (especially in the cities of the world, and apparently that’s now where over 50% of humanity exists) are delivered best by not just the large but the very large.

    Our modern world starts with steel, and everything to do with that product is on a gigantic scale the same goes for all ‘commodities’ in the modern capitalists use of the term. Coal, oil, gas, all manner of ores, water, electricity and so on right through to cotton, wool and sugar all at each grade of the particular substance indistinguishable bulk product bought from price considerations.

    You mention that ‘…small farms can in fact produce much higher quality of a product…’ and you see this as ‘comparing *two capitalist* methods of producing rice.’ accepting ‘The price of the Japanese rice is (you are right) high’ however you excuse this or explain it when you say ‘but it is commensurate with income levels’
    That is the kicker with the Gordian Knot implications.

    Raising real wages is ALL about buying more product with the time employed in the real working day. People who are employed in a factory town that have to buy from the dearer factory store are on a lower real wage than those who can buy from a competitive shopping complex. The owner of the factory store, and even the manager might be doing well but that is not putting more product on that workers table and standard of living is measurable on that table! When you lived in Japan you could not have helped but notice that workers ‘company town’ had a lower standard than in the western world of Europe, Australia, or Canada and the U.S.. They had tiny houses and fell asleep on the trains because IMV they worked such long hours and then they paid through the nose for food! I recall Tokyo lost the plot on Friday night’s and loads of the locals walked with a lean as the alcohol numbed the pain of such a dead end culture of exploitation.

    If ‘fewer Japanese people go hungry as a percentage than in the U.S.’ that is not because workers had a higher standard of living. Now that the economy is stalled in a perpetual doldrums and the population is ageing so rapidly and the old social structures have gone with the older generations we can see that all manner of poverty is back in abundance. The elderly stuck out on the tiny rice farms are not doing so good now.

    What future worker’s states do in pricing of products made for sale (what Marxist know as commodities) is going to be to continue to reduce the price as they go along. Why do I say that? Because it is what humans have been doing since we came down from the trees. The only time that process gets reversed is when we collectively – in any of the various forms of human association – impose tax to discourage some product from being used; tobacco and alcohol being the classic examples.

    If ‘the point I raise sounds too much like the concerns raised by the U.S. trade representatives when they want to push Japan to “open its markets” you might reflect on what another Marxist had to say on the issue.

    ‘If the free-traders cannot understand how one nation can grow rich at the expense of another, we need not wonder, since these same gentlemen also refuse to understand how within one country one class can enrich itself at the expense of another.
    Do not imagine, gentlemen, that in criticizing freedom of trade we have the least intention of defending the system of protection.
    One may declare oneself an enemy of the constitutional regime without declaring oneself a friend of the ancient regime.
    Moreover, the protectionist system is nothing but a means of establishing large-scale industry in any given country, that is to say, of making it dependent upon the world market, and from the moment that dependence upon the world market is established, there is already more or less dependence upon free trade. Besides this, the protective system helps to develop free trade competition within a country. Hence we see that in countries where the bourgeoisie is beginning to make itself felt as a class, in Germany for example, it makes great efforts to obtain protective duties. They serve the bourgeoisie as weapons against feudalism and absolute government, as a means for the concentration of its own powers and for the realization of free trade within the same country.
    But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.’

    The agricultural issues are not about a ‘peasant question’ in late 20th C Japan nor ‘of land ownership, farming methods and the farmers’ relation to the land’. The Japanese ruling elites on behalf of their big owning classes using the political power of their agricultural sector as an excuse took the western owning class world wide for a ride for decades while their country got very wealthy and powerful. Now they can’t get away with this as others have stood up to them and as they are completely tied into the world system they have now had to give a bit more as well as take.

    I think I may have been ‘creating a straw man’ and getting ahead of myself thus ‘simplifying and distorting your argument’ but I’m not unwilling to see the problem from your POV and I don’t have a “one-size fits all” approach.

    I have dealt with self proclaimed ‘Marxists’ and Maoists for many years and am not surprised when those claiming the title behave in a, let’s just say, foolish a manner.

    Now to be fair with Louis I think rather than I point out he has posted material that really goes to confirm MY position not his I ought to let you contribute your view after you have googled and looked at the

    My general point is that people -even when they share a general world view – ought to speak up and contribute when people like Louis and Mike/Nando are just lashing out and discrediting the left generally, let alone Marxism. Liberalism lets this stuff slide on by and there goes the left. People at Kasama just went silent and that is pure liberalism.

    Clearly Louis has not grasped what extinction means and is promoting junk science. Sockeye are on the way to abundance while being massively harvested! So how is he looking at the same material and claims the same materialist viewpoint and yet all he can do is turn on the messenger because of what I think about other issues. What do you think of his contribution at the moment? As I say I don’t know you but as you are reading this as well you can speak up.

    Also I would love to read (given your similar age and Marxist background) your views on


    Comment by patrickmul — April 24, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

  14. Sockeye are on the way to abundance while being massively harvested!

    I don’t know if this guy is putting us on with his pro-capitalist bullshit. “Harvested” salmon is a huge problem and the source of the disease that is killing wild salmon. He seems to have no grasp of the ecosphere or having such a grasp consciously writes pro-industry garbage. It really makes no difference ultimately since what we are dealing with is a degraded ex-Marxist who has become smitten with capitalism, just like Frank Furedi but without the cult following. There is also the possibility that he is psychotic since his ‘analysis’ is really quite mad when you stop and think about it.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 24, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

  15. Patrick,

    The only comment I can make about that quote from Marx is to emphasize the last part of the quote you provide:

    “In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.” This is a quote from more than a 150 years ago. Clearly free trade has NOT hastened the social revolution. Marx is not a prophet for me, and like all humans he also made analytic mistakes. In an age when “free trade” is actually a window of opportunity ONLY for multinationals and whereby it leads to massive and widespread misery among the working classes around the world, in a world where these “free trade” agreements are massively eroding the power of the working classes locally in all localities around the world, I think it is time we, Marxists, took a second look at this assumption that “free trade will hasten the social revolution.”

    Comment by Reza F. — April 24, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

  16. No Louis the wild catch is what I was referring to as harvested (they are these days bred up in great numbers and released to the wild to be caught later). The farmed stocks apparently have some lice issues that concern some greens as you have pointed out but the extinction worry is not anywhere in sight. That was YOUR point remember that the Sockeye was in some great danger and it just is NOT.

    Now Reza would you like to help out on this issue because Louis keeps thinking he is making sense and that there is a big problem when 000,s of tons of wild fish are being harvested and the numbers are bigger in the wild that they were a few years ago and there are also fish farms bringing salmon to workers plates. What do you think, is Louis convincing you? Or do you think he may have got this one wrong?

    And Louis do you think that Marx got it wrong about the Free trade issue?

    Why do you Reza think free trade (with or without the “”) leads to misery and the eroding of the power of the working classes such that Marxists like me ought to take this second look at our assumption that “free trade will hasten the social revolution.”

    Isn’t it capitalism that cycles round to misery times that is the problem and trade restrictions could only make that worse (speeding up the cycles as they were in the old more ‘local’ days no?

    I think the world is far closer to needing a communist revolution than ever and free trade agreements are being signed up to all over the world in the last few decades especially. The pace of agreements being concluded is stepping up I would have thought. Social revolution is underway right across the world and even our own western societies are now stirring as unemployment and massive levels of underemployment stand in stark contrast to the boom times. Yet I gather Reza you are in a milieu that disapproves of big companies and ‘multinationals’ in particular with I suppose agribusiness and chemical industries being the worst. Is that a fair summation? Do you think the traditional view that a few big one are easier to seize (come the revolution) than a society of small and less productive ones, is also an error?

    Comment by patrickmul — April 24, 2015 @ 6:32 pm

  17. the wild catch is what I was referring to as harvested

    Don’t you ever take the fucking trouble to at least look up the argument against what you are proposing? Hatcheries introduce another set of problems entirely:

    Even as they became more proficient at raising juvenile fish, the hatcheries were actually undermining the vitality of the wild stocks of salmon that they hoped to supplement. One problem was rooted in “carrying capacity,” the maximum number of fish that a particular stream can support. As hatcheries infused rivers with millions of fingerlings for their journeys to the sea, the hatchery fry came to compete with the wild fish traveling oceanward at the same time. At times, there simply wasn’t enough food to nourish all of the young fish, to the detriment of both wild and hatchery stocks.

    When hatchery-bred fish return as adults and interbreed with wild salmon, they produce offspring that are less hardy than their purely wild counterparts. Each river and tributary has a distinct strain of fish, the product of generations of natural selection in which the fish that best fit a particular environment were the most likely to return and reproduce, passing on their genes to the next generation. For instance, fish whose spawning journey takes them just a few miles from the ocean enter the river nearly ready to mate, while their cousins destined for spawning grounds far inland will not be ready to lay their eggs until months after they re-enter fresh water. In addition, wild fish often possess resistance to the parasites and diseases of their native streams.

    full: http://www.salmonnation.com/essays/hatcheries.html

    A new study, published in Biology Letters and supported by grants from the Bonneville Power Administration and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, explains that steelhead trout that are bred in hatcheries are significantly genetically impaired, causing poor reproductive fitness. They are so impaired that, even if they survive to reproduce in the wild, the chances that they will produce viable, fertile offspring are startlingly low. This means that adding hatchery fish to the wild populations of fish is more likely to cause problems than to help solve them.

    Previous predictions that hatcheries have a negative effect reproductive fitness have been noted but this is the first study to prove it with field experiments. After years of genetic analysis of thousands of steelhead trout, the study concluded that fish born in the wild to two hatchery-raised steelhead have only 37 percent the reproductive fitness of a fish born to two wild steelhead. A fish born to one wild and one hatchery-raised fish has only 87 percent the reproductive fitness. Even after a full generation in the wild these differences were still measurable.

    “If anyone ever had any doubts about the genetic differences between hatchery and wild fish, the data are now pretty clear,” says Michael Blouin, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University.

    full: http://marinesciencetoday.com/2009/06/24/the-fish-hatchery-solution-leads-to-more-problems-than-solutions/

    Your problem is that you are a capitalist ideologue but are clueless as to your identity. If you wanted to make some money, you’d hire yourself out to some filthy corporation like BP or Monsanto and not waste time here.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 24, 2015 @ 6:57 pm

  18. I think the world is far closer to needing a communist revolution than ever and free trade agreements are being signed up to all over the world in the last few decades especially.

    Have you looked into thorazine?

    Comment by louisproyect — April 24, 2015 @ 7:05 pm

  19. Patrick, you seem to think that these trade agreements are written by, and ratified by people who are interested in spreading the wealth. All you have to do is look at the case of Mexico, where local corn (the symbol of their culinary staple) is hugely undercut by cheap corn from the U.S., leading to huge migration from the country to the slums in the cities of Mexico, and piling on the misery of the Mexican people. Likewise, there is a long stretch of factories just to the south of the California border with Mexico, all of which factories are foreign owned (mostly U.S. owned), and where thousands of women have been raped and killed, and where working conditions are not that much better than what Engels wrote about regarding the Conditions of Working Classes in England.

    The principle mechanism through which these trade deals spread misery is by eroding the very social organizations (such as unions) that ARE capable of contributing to the overthrow of this global system. Case in point, the current historically low level of unionization in the U.S. (I think it’s about 7%). Clearly other factors have contributed to this situation, but we cannot ignore the role of trade agreements such as NAFTA, etc.

    Another example is the actual buying power of the U.S. working classes, which is now LOWER than what it was in 1969 (when corrected for inflation). Again, lots of factors have been working to bring this about, but, again, we absolutely cannot ignore the role of these trade agreements you seem to idolize.

    As for the question of fisheries, I don’t know much about them, so I will not comment since I don’t want to express something about a topic I know so little about. But, just as a not-so-informed reader, it seems the data and information provided by Mr. Proyect is more convincing than what you say.

    One last point: just because certain facts are brought up by liberals who consider those facts important doesn’t mean those facts are not true. The *solution* liberals propose is what makes them liberal, but Marxists can just as well bring up those facts and propose their own solutions. The fact that western Marxists for far too long have designated environmental issues as “middle class” or “liberal” and therefore ignored such issues goes to show the depth of the poverty of their imagination for me. Marx (AND Lenin) were clear that socialists and communists must participate in ALL social movements brought about by capitalism’s contradictory development (see the Communist Manifesto, for example). But, western Marxists have been waiting for too long for the heroic industrial proletariat to magically take to the streets and save the day. They can keep their fantasies to themselves, as far as I am concerned. I have seen too many treacheries committed by western left to have any illusions about their effectiveness, consistency, or even, at times, honesty. And this insistence on “free trade will hasten social revolution” is one such error that needs to be looked at and re-evaluated seriously. Otherwise, the ‘left’ will turn out to be on the side of the most predatory capitalists of our time.

    Comment by Reza F. — April 24, 2015 @ 7:34 pm

  20. Is Patrick a troll?

    Comment by Joshua — April 26, 2015 @ 2:26 pm

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