Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 12, 2019

DeGrowth, the Green New Deal and This Island Earth

Filed under: Counterpunch,Ecology — louisproyect @ 2:11 pm

COUNTERPUNCH, APRIL 12, 2019

Back in the early 1970s, the Socialist Workers Party was well on its way to becoming the largest group on the left in the USA. To a large part, Peter Camejo’s speeches were responsible for this. He was not only good at explaining why you should become a socialist but doing so in an entertaining manner. One of the jokes that never failed to get a laugh was his description of an abundant life under socialism. Money wouldn’t be necessary. You’d go to a state-owned grocery store and be able to walk out with a shopping cart overflowing with filet mignons. This would not prompt an arrest but a referral to a psychiatrist because who in the world would do such a thing.

Although Peter would eventually adopt an ecosocialist outlook that would have made such a joke obsolete, he was reflecting a certain kind of techno-optimism that characterized our movement. Its prophet Leon Trotsky wrote an article in 1926 titled “Radio, Science, Technique and Society” that exclaimed: “The atom contains within itself a mighty hidden energy, and the greatest task of physics consists in pumping out this energy, pulling out the cork so that this hidden energy may burst forth in a fountain. Then the possibility will be opened up of replacing coal and oil by atomic energy, which will also become the basic motive power.”

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4 Comments »

  1. Paul Sweezy was corresponding with Georgescu-Roegen over some of these issues back in the 1970’s. Georgescu-Roegen was the father of ecological economics, and was Herman Daly’s teacher.

    https://monthlyreview.org/2017/02/01/ecology-and-revolution/

    Comment by Jim Farmelant — April 12, 2019 @ 2:42 pm

  2. Jim, I imagine that you remember how often Mark Jones touted Georgescu-Roegen.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 12, 2019 @ 3:09 pm

  3. Atomic energy in the form of e.g. the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor in my opinion remains a feasible and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, viewed on a purely technical basis (to the limited extent to which I can understand the technology). The problem is that this has become a political football for crazed “libertarians” who imagine their own LFTR-fueled gated domains with thorium cars, Bitcoin, and no government (or governance) at all. These nutcases infest the nuclear industry like lice–people who think radiation is good for you and that they themselves have become the destroyers of worlds with no accountability at all to mere mortals.

    https://www.lpnevada.org/the_truly_renewable_energy

    The weight of reactionary politics, fueled by insane “entrepreneurial” delusions, behind the “new nukes” movement makes it absolutely impossible even to imagine either an appropriate regulatory regime or the necessary centralized and rigidly controlled deployment that would allow society to deploy and reap the benefits of this technology. There are also unresolved engineering problems that are unlikely to be addressed by the “entrepreneurial” manner in which this technology is being put forward.

    A particularly hair-raising fantasy is the so-called ThorCon proposal, first assembled by a shadowy outfit called Margingale in Florida and then sold somehow to the Indonesian government, which proposes building Oak Ridge-style LFTRS on an assembly line in shipyards.

    http://thorconpower.com/

    Imagine the consequences of allowing rich fucks to just fling these things down willy-nilly with no oversight or accountability except to the Free Market. That is the dream, although ThorCon (if it actually exists–progress on these things is difficult to ascertain) is currently being funded by a government.

    Back when I was still for this, I was jumped on Facebook by a gang of libertarian assholes from Texas–which made them extra ten-gallon stupid–and beaten about the face and ears because they thought I didn’t know about it.

    One of the subhumans characterized the liquid fluoride fuel as “a soup.” That was his idea of an explanation–no kidding. “It’s a soup.” These idiots are dangerous.

    This problem is not the least of the obstacles to human safety being strewn in our path by the collapsing monster of advanced capitalism. It is a great shame that this promising technology cannot be rescued from the disastrous political moment in which it is now embedded–but I do not alas believe that it can be unless every libertarian in the nuclear industry can be rounded up and put out of circulation before any further development is undertaken. Only centralized planning and deployment can address the problems here–and that is exactly what is being bypassed AFAIK.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 12, 2019 @ 3:30 pm

  4. I wonder if the Green New Deal people would endorse a shorter work week which is probably the easiest and fastest way to cut energy use and carbon emissions.

    Comment by Brian Gallagher — April 13, 2019 @ 7:51 pm


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