• "Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented."

  • "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

  • "What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

  • "I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and the environment."

  • "We won't have a society if we destroy the environment."

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What Is Political Ecology?

What Is Political Ecology?

From Practice to Theory and Strategy

Tatiana Romanova is Associate Professor at the European Studies Department, Saint-Petersburg State University; and Head of Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, Russia.

Resume: Political ecology is an extremely interesting and promising area of research – both theoretical and applied. However, further probes are required, that would make it possible to move on from the accumulation of empirical data to the required level of theorizing, and also to devise a comprehensive strategy for the state to follow in practice. Delays in this field would keep Russia in a second-rate position in the world for decades to come.

 
Tags: global climate changes, global economy, ecology

A monograph by Sergei Yakutseni and Andrei Burovsky, entitled Political Ecology (Russ. Ed.), came out of print recently. The book has many weaknesses: too much empiricism, too few theoretical generalizations, the propaganda-like style of presentation lacking sufficient argument, and eclecticism. Yet the authors have identified a new guideline of interdisciplinary research and practice which will increasingly manifest itself in the coming years. This is a link between politics and environmental protection. Burovsky and Yakutseni define political ecology as “part of the history of humankind inherent in the nature of people,” because environmental decisions “have always had their immediate and long-term political consequences.”

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China turns to ecology in search of ‘civilisation’

China turns to ecology in search of ‘civilisation’

BY James Oswald
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From obscure origins, China’s ecological civilisation model has grown into an international movement

In 2007, then Premier Hu Jintao announced that China would become an ‘ecological civilisation’, eschewing the previous development model that had seen economic growth take priority over environmental health.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a history of using the concept of civilisation, or wenming, as part of its moralistic methods of governance: material civilisation, spiritual civilisation, and political civilisation have all been invoked.

In the Deng era, material civilisation set an ideal material standard of living and spiritual civilisation guided the moral decisions of these Chinese nouveau riche. Later, Jiang Zemin introduced political civilisation that focused on regulation, law, governance and institution-building.  This Chinese notion of civilisation is best understood as a process, of ‘becoming civilised,’ rather than the Western conception of civilisation that has its roots in the notion of the city.

Though these civilising discourses are a response to real or perceived problems arising from China’s development and incorporation into the global market economy, they differ from ecological civilisation in an important way. The previous civilisations are inward-looking attempts by the CCP to address issues arising from its development and modernisation. Ecological civilisation, in contrast, has international implications— after all, the present environmental crisis, while it may see a particularly severe expression in mainland China, is international in nature and its causes and manifestations are global.

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A Marxist Ecological Vision

A Marxist Ecological Vision

— Nicholas Davenport

[The following article is adapted from a presentation at the Solidarity summer school in August 2012. Nicholas Davenport is a member of the newly formed Ecosocialism Working Group of Solidarity. The editors of Against the Current view this contribution as part of an urgently needed discussion.

The questions facing environmental activists, and socialists in particular, range from the sheer scale of the environmental disasters already underway to the problems of beginning a transition from a system organized around massive consumption of fossil fuels, vast megacities and global agribusiness.

In the process of doing so, how will an ecosocialist movement and society address the crisis of global inequality and the need to “develop the productive forces” without pushing the planet and human civilization over the environmental cliff? We look forward to explorations of these questions from a variety of angles and viewpoints. — David Finkel, for the ATC editors]

THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS presents the starkest possible example of both the necessity of and opportunity for revolutionary change. Nothing but a radical transformation of basic social relations can prevent the worst possible outcomes of the crisis. In spite of its overwhelming and frightening magnitude, the ecological crisis presents a moment to revitalize the world revolutionary movement.

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Climate and Democracy

Peter Burnell

Climate and democracy

The science of climate change and human responsibility, the economics of addressing the problem, the justice dimension and, even, implications for North-South relations have all received substantial exposure in public debate and specialized technical, policy, and academic literatures. We also hear about the imperative to “climate-proof” society, the poor, and even the state. Occasionally we are told the “right political framework” is needed, usually meaning an improvement on the Kyoto Protocol and national legislation for regulating energy use.

A surprising omission is a balanced inquiry into what climate change and its effects mean for democratization, and what democratization could mean for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and climate adaptation. Democratization here means movement toward something like actually existing liberal democracy, present in many countries, not theoretical models of deliberative democracy, radical participatory democracy, or “eco-democracy”. Just as global warming has become headline news, so another but more celebrated phenomenon of recent times has been a wave of democratization, starting in southern Europe in the 1970s, subsequently embracing Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and sizeable parts of Africa and Asia, too. Hardly less eye-catching, however, is the wave’s recent slowing to a halt and, by some accounts, partial retreat.

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Joel Kovel fired from Bard College for anti-Zionism

Joel Kovel

Joel Kovel fired from Bard College for anti-Zionism

STATEMENT OF JOEL KOVEL REGARDING HIS TERMINATION BY BARD COLLEGE

Introduction

In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michèle Dominy, Dean of the College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1 and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members of the Faculty Senate.

This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by political values, principally stemming from differences between myself and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial subject, my work on ecosocialism (The Enemy of Nature). However, the evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.

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