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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) — Digging Deeper CLIX: May 16, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

Chris Williams, Ecology and Socialism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010).

[Thesis. Capitalism created the of coal, oil sands, LNG (87-96). With this
ecological crisis and must be abolished if comes geopolitical tension and
humanity is to solve it.] imperialism (97-104).

Introduction. A gathering ecological Ch. 4: False Solutions Favored by
crisis threatens not only many species the System. Instead of systemic
but climate stability itself (1-5). "It is reform, inadequate approaches are
rarely acknowledged that capitalism favored: Kyoto (105-11), Copenhagen
itself may be the problem"; instead, we (111-17), cap and trade (117-24),
hear misguided talk of sustainable reducing personal consumption (124-27),
development or personal sacrifice (6; 5- recycling (127-36), nuclear power (136-
10). Summary of book (10-14). 44).

Ch. 1: The Science of Climate Ch. 5: Real Solutions Right Now:
Change. Given the undeniability of the What We Need to Fight For. But the
problem, corporate lobbyists are problem is social, not technical (145-48).
changing their tune (16-21). Physics of A technologically feasible plan for energy
the greenhouse effect, on which life based on renewable sources exists (148-
depends (21-24). The evidence for 55). It would mitigate chemical pollution
global warming is "incontrovertible" (24; (155-59). Conservation (159-63).
24-27). "Now that we are already at a Because of political obstacles, a mass
CO2 concentration of almost 400 ppm, movement and political reform is
what is urgently required is that we stay necessary (159-69).
below 450ppm and as quickly as possible
reduce that back to 350ppm in order to Ch. 6: Marxism and the Environment.
limit warming to 2ºC." (29; 27-31). Marx & Engles had a holistic view of
"humankind's place in the environment"
Ch. 2: Is Population the Problem? (170; 170-80). "Marxism is a science, not
The population problem has returned as a religion" (180). Dialectical materialism
a subject for public discussion (32-37). has contributed to modern ecological
Marx's critique of Malthus (37-42). thought (180-90).
Environmentalism has accepted neo-
Malthusianism (42-47). But Ch. 7: From Capitalist Crisis to
neoliberalism, not overpopulation, is "the Socialist Sensibility. Capitalism is
real root cause of the food crisis, poverty, "fundamentally incapable of developing
and hunger" (57; 47-58). Under in a sustainable manner" because of its
capitalism, 50% of all food is wasted (58- commitment to short-term profitability
65). Scarcity is a structurally necessary (192-93; 191-202). In addition, it breeds
part of capitalism (65-72). alienation from nature (202-08).
Capitalism is committed to an inhumane
Ch. 3: Why Capitalism Cannot Solve and unnatural conception of time
the Problem. Capitalism's development because "[c]apital requires humans and
of overproductive social relations retards nature only as conditions of monetary
the"transformation of energy sources" accumulation, nothing more" (213; 208-
(73-80). Obama has abandoned the push 14).
for progressive energy policy (80-87).
Instead, he has accepted Big Oil's pursuit
Ch. 8: What Would a Sustainable science courses at Pace University in
Society Look Like? "[A]n ecologically New York City and Packer Collegiate
and culturally relevant diversity of Institute in Brooklyn.
agricultural, industrial, transportation,
educational, and residential forms based [Additional information. Williams was
on communal ownership and democratic born in England and grew up on the River
control by the people themselves" (228; Avon (247).]
215-28).
[Critique. Ecology and Socialism is
Conclusion. A call for "abolishing" persuasive in its portrayal of the urgency
capitalism (223; 229-39). of the ecological crisis, but vague and
politically naive in its vision of an
Selected Bibliography and alternative. Chris Williams's use of
Resources. 88 books, 30 websites; 8 Marxism as an instrument of critique is
documentary films. unsophisticated and weak. His portrayal
of an environmentally sensitive
Acknowledgments. Teachers, friends Bolshevism prior to the "Stalinist
(247-48). counterrevolution" is unconvincing, and
because of his unargued, dogmatic
Notes. 29 pp. commitment to Marxism as a "science,"
this book will persuade only those who
Index. 7 pp. are already ideologically committed.]

About the Author. Chris Williams is
an environmental activist who teaches