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not just program, but essence and objective investigation also

Hey Dianne,

I hear what you're saying in terms of how an ecological program organically emerges from the conditions of labor, and it's inner relation to a broader communist movement, but, while, I think you go a long way towards explaining the what, I'm more asking the why.

You could infer from your comment that the possibilities for building an ecological society only emerge with or after the emancipation of labor from capital. I'm not, by the way, saying that this is in fact your position. I'm deliberately setting up a straw man to point to the fact that we need much more theoretical development on this issue in order to be able to avoid stage-theory type conclusions such as those.

Marx says, "Communism is not for us a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the now existing premise."

This passage alludes to Marx's whole method by which he engaged in the most rigorous investigation of the objective appearance of capital, while at the same time explaining how beneath capital's existence, was labor, and, more importantly, universal, free activity as the essence of labor. But because of this contradiction between appearance and essence -- which Marx began to discuss in his section on the fetish -- the possibilities of free human activity could only be presented in the abstract. These abstractions are at the same time, however, based on an objective analysis of the "now existing premise."

Communism (and an ecology society) is not just a program that we subjectively implement. The program and the means to do so emerge objectively from the movement of labor against capital in their concrete forms of existence (for instance, neoliberalism instead of Keynesianism as the contemporary form of capital, or the prison industrial complex instead of Jim Crow as the contemporary form of white supremacy); thus the need for objective investigation and abstract theoretical work.

This is what I really liked about Nick's article. It develops the abstract and theoretical side of the ecological struggle within a Marxist framework and using Marxist categories; i.e., the productive forces and their development. At the same time, however, this is only a beginning and we have a long way to go. So when I ask about the strategic importance of ecological struggles, we need to be approaching it in that way - in a Marxist way.

When we think about the importance of production workers we're drawn to the center of Marx's whole theory: the value-form. So what are the abstract categories that we can deduce from an investigation of ecological struggles. IMHO, Murray Bookchin has gone a long way towards developing objective (and dialectical) categories, but despite his good work I'm still unable to answer my friend's question. Maybe the labor movement has to precede the ecological movement and we just have to focus on that first...

...but I still don't think so, and instead think we just have to keep investigating and developing our theoretical and practical work.

Something Nick said in his last comment begins to get at the need for this sort of work. He said, "What if what workers actually want is to drive cars and live in single-family houses surrounded by enormous lawns?"

I don't think this will be the case because, as Marx explains in the German Ideology, needs correspond to particular forms of labor. As the forms of labor change -- from capitalist to communist, for instance -- the needs will change. The question remains, though, how does an ecological impulse, if you will, exist as a potential today despite the anti-ecological forms of labor/activity in the same way that free human activity exists as a potential despite its existence in the various forms of capital (commodity, value, money, etc.) More theoretical work is needed.

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