Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Good Quotes

Daniel Tanuro
The Futility of Green Capitalism
Climate and Capitalism

On Being an Ecosocialist

An ecosocialist differs from an ecologist in that he analyzes the "ecological crisis" not as a crisis of the relationship between humanity in general and nature but as a crisis of the relationship between an historically determined mode of production and its environment, and therefore in the last analysis as a manifestation of the crisis of the mode of production itself.

In other words, for an ecosocialist, the ecological crisis is in fact a manifestation of the crisis of capitalism (not to overlook the specific crisis of the so-called "socialist" societies, which aped capitalist productivism). A result is that, in his fight for the environment, an ecosocialist will always propose demands that make the connection with the social question, with the struggle of the exploited and oppressed for a redistribution of wealth, for employment, etc.
– Daniel Tanuro

On "Scientific" Socialism

Stephen Jay Gould
Roundtable on the Future of the Left
Brecht Forum
October, 1998

Stephen Jay Gould
This may not be a popular position, but at least it’s mine. (laughter) I think, at least as I understand it, the way in which they use the term “scientific,” we should drop it now.

It was the nineteenth century, and Marx came out of this tradition which was highly deterministic and had theories of historical stages. I think he was following a procedure that’s been very common throughout history, based on the prestige of science and the misunderstanding that science is meant to be a deterministic enterprise. I think that’s really an incorrect position. I think if we’ve learned anything in the twentieth century, it’s the depth of history’s contingencies and unpredictabilities.

They can be explained after they happen, you can certainly have prognostications, you can certainly learn important things, and the word “scientific” itself is very broad. It doesn’t only mean the caricatured LaPlacean determinism, and I think science could be broadened as a concept to include historical complexity which doesn’t grant that kind of predictability.

Nonetheless, the whole historical context of the phrase “scientific socialism” is so bound up with the outmoded, deterministic view that was common in nineteenth century science, and which spilled over into theories of social structure and predictability, that we’d probably be better off just dropping it. (applause)

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