Special: A view from the Left: Capitalism, climate change and the environment

From the point of view of greens, the Left in general, and Marxism in particular, is often seen as being myopic about the looming environmental crisis. Here we present a selection of articles and essays by leading writers from the Left, who are among the most interesting and constructive voices to engage with the issue.

Apocalyptic Capitalism
Chris Hedges, Truthdig
We have to let go of our relentless positivism, our absurd mania for hope, and face the bleakness of reality before us. To resist means to acknowledge that we are living in a world already heavily damaged by global warming. It means refusing to participate in the destruction of the planet. It means noncooperation with authority. It means defying in every way possible consumer capitalism, militarism and imperialism. It means adjusting our lifestyle, including what we eat, to thwart the forces bent upon our annihilation.

Marxism, ecology, and the great transition
John Bellamy Foster, Great Transition Initiative
This essay unearths the deep ecological roots of Marx’s thought, showing how he brought an environmental perspective to bear on the overarching question of social transformation. From there, it traces the evolution of Marxian ecology, illuminating its profound, formative link to modern ecological economics and systems ecology. It concludes by discussing the wider project of building a social movement broad and deep enough to halt and reverse ecological and social destruction.

Remarks on Capitalism and the Environment It Produces
Harry Magdoff, Monthly Review
“Remarks on Capitalism and the Environment It Produces” is a recently discovered draft paper of Harry Magdoff’s. The exact date and location of its presentation is unknown; however the occasion was quite clearly a panel on economist Michael Tanzer’s The Sick Society (1971). We can therefore assume that it was written in 1971 or 1972. It is provided here in its original form with only minor copyediting. The title has been added. In our view, the chief importance of the paper is Magdoff’s early development of ecological ideas, ideas that are now much more common on the left.

From Climate Crisis to Solar Communism
David Schwartzman, Jacobin Mag
The exercise of class power is a prerequisite for the possibility of ecosocialist transition, which can only be carried out with the historic dissolution of the [military-industrial complex], coupled with increasing social ownership and governance of the means of production as well as the modes of consumption — the entirety culminating in the creation of global solar communism.

Marxism and the environment
Per-Åke Westerlund, Socialist Alternatve
Marxism is often mistakenly accused of taking the environment for granted – in the pursuit of the economic growth needed to alleviate poverty and want. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Drawing on the works of Marx and Engels, and the experience of the first years of the Russian revolution, the author sets the record straight.

Eco-Socialism or Barbarism – 11 Theses
Saral Sarkar
The history of capitalism has always been also the history of its crises. This has been so because of its self-contradictory nature, which by itself generates crises and undermines its own conditions of successful functioning. Till now, capitalism has always proved flexible enough to ensure that these crises did not lead to its end, although the price that humans and nature had to pay for its survival has been high. Today however, all over the world, capitalism is facing for the first time an insurmountable barrier, which has been set from “outside”, is of geological and physical nature and is, therefore, final.

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