Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 26, 2019

Ecological limits and the working class

Filed under: Counterpunch,Ecology — louisproyect @ 2:01 pm

In the interest of the working class?


In the latest issue of Catalyst Magazine that is published by Bhaskar Sunkara, there is an article titled “Ecological Politics for the Working Class” by Syracuse University professor Matt Huber, which argues for the need to abandon the “middle class” orientation of the ecologists whose worldview was shaped by the 1960s radicalization. (I guess that includes me.)

These people with their affinity for the Landless Workers’ Movement in Brazil or the struggle for clean water in Flint, Michigan are neglecting the mainstream proletariat that sounds like Donald Trump voters:

It was working-class loggers who opposed the protection of the spotted owl or the restoration of salmon runs in the Columbia River. As Richard White recounts, the bumper sticker “Are you an Environmentalist or do you Work for a Living?” became popular among rural working-class communities.

To woo such people into a revolutionary movement, the emphasis should be on winning urban and suburban workers to the Green New Deal that is a lynchpin of Sunkara’s developing journalistic empire rather than “the struggles of poor rural populations (peasants, indigenous peoples, etc.) over land, resources, and environmental degradation within a Marxist political-economic framework.” Since most people are wage workers who have been dispossessed of land through “primitive accumulation” over the past four centuries at least, why waste time with the “marginal” population in Brazil, for example? For every Yanomami, there are likely 100,000 wage workers. That’s the argument, anyhow.

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1 Comment »

  1. Scholarship, monopoly media, politicians are by, for and largely consist of 10% “professional class” perspective. If US white flight suburbanite consumption fueled AGW, how can their largely urban, Yuppie offspring diffuse the repercussions onto deplorables, sitting in traffic between 2-3 1099 gigs, renting the homes we’ve lost, eating toxic monoculture GE crops & CAFO meat? Our betters destroyed electric traction mass transit to indenture us with cars (fueled by extractive environmental degradation and wars). The resulting income disparity enabled FIRE, Energy, Military, Agribusiness sectors to foster kleptocratic duopoly, well before the Powell Memo era. As we’re seeing overseas, working class mass protests have little overall affect, and are presented in a negative light, by the formerly affluent creative classes, largely struggling as freelance mouthpieces of complicit media conglomerates.

    Comment by Philo Beddoh — July 29, 2019 @ 11:09 am

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