Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Does capitalism have to fall - to save the Earth?

Dr. Joel Kovel thinks so. He's the influential lefty academic who wrote "Enemy of Nature." The subtitle was "The End of Capitalism, or the End of the World."

Kovel was in Vancouver to promote his new book on Zionism, as well as an upcoming new edition of "Enemy of Nature." He's also promising a DVD criticizing Al Gore as a Capitalism substitute for real action to save the planet.

Al Gore? Kovel explains that Gore, and the Kyoto Protocol, aim to extend the role of Capitalism, making sure lots of people at the top make money, from the problem of climate change. But in fact, Kovel argues, the economics of Capitalism MUST always expand, always consume more, to survive. There can be no sustainable Capitalism on a single planet, with limited life resources. The form of ever-expansion (more sales!!) will just eventually eat the Earth. Without more consumption, capitalism collapses.

And what comes next? Some kind of organization of human beings that can co-exist with Nature, with the actual physics and life forms of the Earth. Kovel believes that Marxism still holds some promise for that new social life. That people will organize communally, or fall into hopeless, warring chaos. He's one of a number of people promoting ecosocialism.

Joel has alienated some of the old-time hard-line Marxists, because he no longer believes such a revolution depends upon industrialism (which Soviet-style Marxism promoted rabidly) - or even on "the workers of the world." There is no "privileged agent" he says, and likely new social forms will look different in different parts of the world. (See my post on Hugo Blanco, for example.)

Kovel was a nominee for the Green Party Presidential run in the year 2000 - losing out to Ralph Nader. Now he quips that if only Kovel had won the Green Party nomination, Al Gore would have been President for sure.

I've attached the audio of an interview I did with him, where I pressed Joel about the issue of global warming, and how ecosocialism might help solve our problems. We also discussed the contentious issue of population, and over-population.

That was just before a full-evening panel on Ecosocialism, in Vancouver September 21st, 2007, presented by Seven Oaks online magazine. At the panel, Joel presented a paper on the new ecosocialism. He sees signs of people moving toward a different form of economic and social organization. You can download his whole 32 minute speech at:

Meanwhile, George Monbiot, definitely a Leftist at heart as well, has said we don't have time to wait for the revolution. The climate will get us first.

But Kovel argues that carbon dioxide is caused by Capitalism. There is no tech fix, without a broad social change. The Wall Street wizards, with their government bureaucrats, can cook up a thousand schemes to trade carbon - but it won't work as long as greed is our basic operating principle.

Personally, I think Marxism is dead. But Capitalism is obviously dying too. I just hope it doesn't take the whole natural world, and all the hopes of our youth, down with it.

Radio Ecoshock

P.S. I have a new site for non-profit radio stations, Low Power FM and pirate broadcasters, or re-podcasters. Drop me a line at radio [at] from your station box, and I'll get you the details. We now have at least 12 confirmed college and community stations running our weekly one hour program - join us, for big picture environmentalism, science, and interviews.

Stations get our "show notes" with details on where to insert Station ID, etc. Plus a helpful fast way to download each program.

Anyone can download all our past programs from the radio archive at