Sunday, January 09, 2011

ecosocialism or barbarism: there is no third way


I'm profoundly moved by this critique (pdf!) of my erstwhile champion of awesome, Herman Daly (via Climate and Capitalism).You see, I'm definitely a third way kind of person myself: I'm quite happy to rail against capitalism but I'm not at all convinced by the fractious intellectual snobbery of the socialist mob. That's why I mention evidence-based policy so often: because it rejects all and any ideology. I suppose I'm a technocrat.

Anyway, back to the epic critique of our boy Herman. The main point that the author, Richard Smith, makes about Herman's ecological economic movement- and this is reinforced in his rebuttal of Herman's own response to the original article- is that Herman considers it is possible to conduct steady-state capitalism whilst Smith considers capitalism to be a fundamentally expansionist concept that cannot be constrained by regulation. This is a point I have flirted with several times, comparing the race between regulation and the armies of lawyers accountants and scientists employed by corporations  to circumvent that legislation to the behaviour of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. (A metaphor that I am not the first to appropriate.) Unfortunately for Herman, and also for a variety of other "steady state capitalism" advocates , I find this argument entirely convincing. As does Smith, who takes great pains to clarify that he doesn't have the ready-formed and robustly functional alternative to SSE that Herman demands of him in his response. Instead, Smith calls for an urgent debate to be inititated to establish the shape of such a system before we are run out of time and resources. 

At this point, unfortunately, my interest in eco-socialism wanes because I cannot see any such debate occurring on any significant scale. Indeed, such debates have been occurring in isolated pockets- and even in more medium sized institutions of late- but they remain an activity of the sideline and I cannot believe that any such conversation will reach the mainstream before the oil runs out, the seas rise and acidify and Sarah Palin launches her holy war against European Islamofascism.

punkscience sighs deeply and flicks back to his PDF of Survival+


  1. "At this point, unfortunately, my interest in eco-socialism wanes"

    at this point? do you even know what "this point" in world history is? this is like a drowning saying "at this point, getting to the surface and breathing oxygen doesn't seem interesting to me"

    don't worry, your non-concern for the ecological crisis, and the best way to combat it which is democratic control of the means of production for community benefit rather than private appropriation, controlled by democratic mandate of the people and rational planning rather than the anarchy of the "free" market, is your particular privilege, not shared by the people who are _dying_ due to the ecological crisis as we waste time.

    the worst part of this is that i always end up coming back to this page when i search "ecosocialism or barbarism pdf" which i used to be able to find a link to online, to send to comrades, but now doesn't seem to exist. instead i get a page of irrelevant results, the most irrelevant of all is your ignorant blog.

  2. LOLZ! Your drowning analogy is absolutely spot on. However, you should grasp that I'm discussing humanity's prospects, not my own convictions. I'm entirely pro-oxygen in your analogy. I just don't think that the solution will be brought about by those advocating it because we are in the minority and powerful interests oppose us.

    Please don't whinge about how you're too stupid to use the internet. Grow the fuck up and learn how to bookmark stuff. If you can't handle that print out the hard copy and put it on your bookshelf next to your collected works of .


Feel free to share your opinions of my opinions. Oh- and cocking fuckmouse.