Nature and Marxism
In Chapter 8, Coetes begins with discussing the relationship between society and nature. Nature is often seen as an indication of wealth in terms of property and everyone’s “place” in society. Adam Smith, a capitalist is one of those who claims that the laws of nature accumulate wealth and his reasoning is based on Social Darwinism which is competition in a society and the theory that social classes are biologically superior compared to those beneath them. Eco-socialists have environmental criticisms of Marxism because in terms of capitalism, nature is merely for production and human use.
This is the relationship between the environment and society according to Marxism. Engels talked about similar teachings that Marx had though he emphasized more on problems such as overgrazing and deforestation. Though there are critiques on Marxism for putting man first, there is evidence that Marx did support the environment by emphasizing how natural resources should be managed on a sustainable yield. Also Marx and Engel both have reasons for coming up with the theories they came up with. “Given that the most pressing environmental problems that Marx and Engels witnessed were associated with urban poverty and industrial pollution, we cannot excoriate them for insensitivity to the destruction of wildlife habitats.” (150). In conclusion, whether Marx and Engel’s teachings were “green” is left for interpretation and based on what you think of as environmentalism.
- Do you consider Marx and Engel’s teachings to stimulate “green” thought? Why do you think so?
- Do you think we still view nature as more of property and more of an indicator of where we stand in society?
British left and Environmental Movement
Peter Coates brings up the opinions and views people have on the left-wing and how capitalism developed thoughts and ideas from them. Thomas Carlyle just like Marx and Engels emphasizes the horror and dramatic impact of industry and machinery. Bate said that the left-wing was more Romantic than socialist and analyzes the left-wing in stages while William Ruskin not only developed a metaphorical landscape but claimed that the green left have a lot in common. Derek Wall claims that the left-wing is the only political party to support green rights versus the right-wing which according to him does not. The right-wing is too close to aristocracy to have green opinions. As more environmental opinions began developing, Britain slowly moved to its own environmental movement.
Britain’s Environmental Movement originated from the countryside because there were more noticeable changes in the environment. It was started by women who were the main consumers of bird products in that period of time. “Powerful organizations such as the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the arch-conservative Daughters of the American Revolution maintained bustling conservation committees, and women spearheaded many local campaigns.” (164).
- Do you still maintain your faith in humanity about the fate of our environment?
- Do you think that women were either good for beginning the British environmental movement or bad because they wanted more from nature?
Morality of the Earth
The top picture displays the “death of Lake Erie” due to oxygen starvation open the eyes of Americans on the state of the environment. This is just one example of people really showing concern for the environment and the future of the earth. “Lucretius, in De Rerum Natura, contended that the earth was ‘gradually decaying, nearly the end, worn out by the long span of years.” (175). People are arguing that while the earth is still standing strong, the environmental impact we have on the earth is so subtle that we do not realize how much we are destroying it. Others such as Bill McKibben do not believe we are responsible for the earth’s destruction stating that the hole in the ozone layer is global.
- Do you think that we are responsible for the decay of the earth or is it a natural thing we cannot control?
- Is there still hope for a future of the earth?