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Ecosocialism for a new era

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The author wants to demonstrate that ecological sustainability is incompatible with economic growth and sketches how an ecosocialist society would look like. He starts with a brief history of capitalism in the 20th century. The market system is defined by the creation of 3 fictitious commodities: land, labour and money. They are fictitious because they are not produced for sale as market commodities, but they are nevertheless bought in markets. Capitalism, in the eyes of Marx, establishes an economy which is separate and distinct from the rest of society and fascism and bolscevism were reactions to the destructive effects of capitalism. With the advent of neoliberalism, the aim of capitalism turns into undermining social forces and institutions that underpinned the post-war social democratic setting: trade unions, public ownership, local governments, social housing were all progressively undermined. Moreover, with globalisation, the abolition over the control of capital movement and the production chain moved to cheaper countries, the strength of the labour was under attack and the emergence of precariat triggered a race at the bottom of the socio-economic structure of society. Side by side, we witnessed the commodification of every aspect of life. the current historical moment is in the eyes of the author one where the old is dying and the new cannot be born yet: he recognises signs of resistance in different movements around the world, that though lack a credible vision of how the post capitalist society would look like and how to move towards it. The author envisions a ecosocialist society able to nurture human and non-human nature, in contrast with capitalism. Socialism though cannot be imposed from above and has to emerge from and created by the collective and individual self-activation and organization of people and civil society. The main principles of an ecosocialist society would be the abolition of the metabolic rift and of the division of labour. The metabolic rift is the impact of capitalism on non-human nature, that undermines the ecosystems on which capitalism depends; the abolition of the social division of labour will entail the abolition of the division between mental and manual labour. Since capitalism offers false primarily materials to satisfy real needs, the ecosocialist society, once the threshold of food, shelter, health and education are reached, will enhance human well being focusing on qualitative aspects of life. The ecosocialist society will also have social ownership by those who are affected by the enterprise activities. The author then quotes Gramsci in defining the need for political strategies tht challenge existing power structures and change the balance of forces in societies. In the war of manoeuvre emerging from the crisis of the dominant class not being able to exercise the power as before, contending social forces seek to resolve a crisis in their favour by establishing an hegemonic position. Most likely the war of manoeuvre will resolve in passive revolutions where the ruling class’ power will be slowly eroded and create the conditions for the establishment of a post-capitalist and eventually ecosocialist society. in the author’s view, in order to undermine the capitalism structure and gain progressive hegemonic position, all forces affected by existing capitalist regime should ally.  

Publication Year: 
Book Title: 
Varieties of Alternative Economic Systems: Practical Utopias for an Age of Global Crisis and Austerity