Review of Green Capitalism by Jason Walsh at @goforthmag

Jason Walsh has a review of a new book called Green Capitalism: Manufacturing Scarcity in an Age of Abundance at forth magazine. According to the review, the book says that business today tries to increase its profits not through greater production, but by creating artificial scarcity that enables prices to rise.

Of particular interest to Strange Times partisans is this quote from the review:

Heartfield’s argument will not be welcome either on the left or in green circles, which is a great pity. Today’s left has, for the most part, enthusiastically embraced the green agenda, seeing it as a useful vehicle for framing a critique of capitalist social relations. Unfortunately, much of the green critique of capitalism is misplaced, focussing on individuals’ consumption and favouring retrograde measures in production that cause real world rises is commodity prices, from inefficient organic farming at one end of the scale to carbon trading, which not only encourages lower productivity but also functions as a barrier to new entrants to industry, at the other.

The left’s opportunistic attachment to the green ideal is a world away from the productivist visions of the likes of Marx. In fact, it amounts to a renunciation of the left’s key goal. The left’s goal has traditionally been not the amelioration of poverty through management but the liberation of all humanity through massively increased efficiency. This vital point is now completely obscured and ill understood by the vast majority of people who call themselves left wing today. Confusing social liberalism and today’s social democracy with socialism is now so commonplace that the word socialism itself is all but meaningless.

Green Capitalism can be purchased through forth’s Amazon store if you click here. Comments are of course welcome here, but I’d also suggest visiting the original review and commenting there too.

1 Response to “Review of Green Capitalism by Jason Walsh at @goforthmag”

  1. 1 Arthur

    It’s an interesting thesis, hostile to the same stuff we are hostile to.

    But the analysis is simply wrong:

    The twin factors which saw the rise of green politics to the mainstream were the demise of the Soviet Union which left radicals, even those who abhorred the Eastern Bloc countries, rudderless and saw them take up green politics as the basis for opposition to capitalist social and economic relations and, secondly, capitalism’s own retreat from production.

    The Soviet bloc collapsed in the 1990s.

    But by the late 1970s Technology and Progress, noted:

    4. This paper has nothing new or startling to say but will simply try to raise the banner of a position of whose existence most “radicals” seem quite unaware, without undertaking a comprehensive defence of that position. Since in surveying the literature I couldn’t find a single article advocating the position I hold, and which I understand to have always been the “orthodox” Marxist view on these questions, I felt obliged to write one myself. Any assistance from readers who can point me to relevant material would be most appreciated.

    So more than a decade earlier the Marxist position had completely disappeared from the literature!

    Please do read that article from 3 decades ago carefully and consider how little the “left” capitulation to reactionary green politics then differed from that now.

    While Heartfield’s attack on pseudoleft reaction is welcome, his explanation merely provides depressing confirmation of the obliteration of Marxism:

    The placing of artificial restrictions on industrial output offers a short-term solution for business by circumventing simple economics: reducing investment results in part-stagnation of industrial processes and, ultimately, higher costs for the goods produced, thus securing higher profits not through mass production but high prices.

    Such “circumventing simple economics” securing higher profits by higher costs and stagnation represents a level of “circumventing simple logic” no less abysmal than that of the greens.

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