Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ecology and Marxism, pt. 1

I highly suggest reading Levi post, Inhuman Ethics. I hope to make a fuller response later. Right now, I want to quote some things to provide a beginning for later posts (when I get the chance).

The first is a quotation from Reviel Netz's Barbed Wire: An Ecology of Modernity:
Marxism was lacking not merely in the understanding of agriculture but in the understanding of ecology and therefore of history itself (p. 180).

The second quotation is from Adorno:

In Marx the principle of the domination of nature is actually accepted quite naively. According to the Marxian way of seeing there is something of a change in the relations of domination between people -- they are supposed to come to an end, that is, such domination should disappear -- but the unconditional domination of nature by human beings is not affected by this, so we might say that the image of a classless society in Marx has something of a quality of a gigantic joint-stock company for the exploitation of nature, as Horkheimer once formulated it. The fact that, according to Marx, the labour performed by animals does not lead to the production of surplus value -- even though the costs of reproduction is lower in animals than the time or energy expanded -- the fact that, according to an explicit passage in Capital, their labour produces no surplus value is merely the crassest symbol of this. I have no wish to become embroiled in romantic reflections on nature, but I believe that, when I say there has been too little interpretation, we have alighted on a very crucial problem. If there is only one truth, it is not possible to criticize radically the principle of domination on the one hand, while unreservedly acquiescing in it in a undialectical manner on the other. If it is the case -- as Marx and Engels taught, although I am by no means sure it is the case -- that domination over external nature called for societies in which domination prevailed through the millennia because things would not have worked otherwise -- and that this situation is now supposed to be radically transformed all of a sudden, then you need a very strong faith (to put it mildly) to imagine that the forms of domination of nature should persist in accordance with idealism, in accordance with a Fichtean idea of absolute subjectivity, without forms of domination making their appearance [in society]. If in the Eastern-bloc countries the bureaucrats have eaten their fill and have formed themselves into a class, this is undeniably connected to the process of industrialization with its utterly ruthless and undialectical demands for the domination of nature, whereas for a seriously liberated vision of society that includes the relationship of man and nature, the relation to the domination of nature has to be changed if it is not constantly to reproduce itself in the internal forms of society. (Adorno, Lectures on Negative Dialectics: Fragments on a Lecture Course 1965/1966, pp. 58-59, emphasis in the original).
I will have more to say later, I just wanted to type these up as a beginning.