Roberto Andrés: I have long wanted to interview you about a book that was decisive in my intellectual formation: Marx’s Ecology. This book was published in 2000 in English and immediately translated into Spanish and inaugurated what has become known as second generation ecosocialism, which recognizes the ecological conception of Karl Marx, unlike the previous generation. However, in the more than twenty years since, Marx’s Ecology not only opened a wide debate but was also the object of multiple criticisms (it could not be otherwise). Later, you and Paul Burkett, author of Marx and Nature, published an anti-critique: Marx and the Earth, where you rigorously answered each of those criticisms. And then Kohei Saito further extended this line of inquiry with Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism. All of this has led me to wonder about the answers you gave in 2000 to ten controversial questions that have puzzled analysts of Marx’s vast theoretical corpus for a long time. Given the debates over the last two decades, would you answer these ten questions the same way you did in 2000 with Marx’s Ecology? I tend to believe that, in general terms, much progress has been made during this time in this line of research. That is why I would like to do a very specific interview with you dealing with these ten controversial questions, some twenty years after Marx’s Ecology.
John Bellamy Foster: I am of course pleased to provide answers to your questions with respect to Marx and my book Marx’s Ecology two decades after its publication. My views have remained generally the same, though they naturally have been refined over the years. Nevertheless, I am glad to offer some clarifications.
In the 1970s, I met one of Hitler’s leading propagandists, Leni Riefenstahl, whose epic films glorified the Nazis. We happened to be staying at the same lodge in Kenya, where she was on a photography assignment, having escaped the fate of other friends of the Fuhrer.
She told me that the ‘patriotic messages’ of her films were dependent not on ‘orders from above’ but on what she called the ‘submissive void’ of the German public.
Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked. ‘Yes, especially them,’ she said.
I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.
The world is sliding into a recession due to multiple overlapping crises, the head of the WTO said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the opening of the WTO’s annual public forum in Geneva, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala noted that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have both downgraded their global growth forecasts, and that trade indicators are “not looking too good.”
Colliding crises such as surging food prices, the soaring cost of living, and the energy crunch, first triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and then aggravated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have created the conditions for a global recession.
This episode of Hybrid Industrial/Commercial War, in the form of a terror attack against energy infrastructure in international waters signals the absolute collapse of international law, drowned by a “our way or the highway”, “rules-based”, order.
The attack on both pipelines consisted of multiple explosive charges detonated in separate branches close to the Danish island of Bornholm, but in international waters.
That was a sophisticated operation, carried out in stealth in the shallow depth of the Danish straits. That would in principle rule out submarines (ships entering the Baltic are limited to a draught of 15 meters). As for prospective “invisible” vessels, these could only loiter around with permission from Copenhagen – as the waters around Borholm are crammed with sensors, reflecting fear of incursion by Russian submarines. (!)
Drunk on their own hubris, the Americans got too smart by half. The sabotage of the pipelines will open the eyes of many around the world about the honor and goodness of the indispensable nation. The US actions make its allies look like the imbeciles or pathetic whores they are.
The people of Cuba approved their new Family Code on September 25, now the most progressive code of families in the world. With 74.01% of eligible voters participating, the Family Code passed in a landslide victory. 66.87% of participants voted in favor of the new code and 33.13% voted against.
On September 27, the Cuban mission to the United Nations hosted US scholars, activists, union leaders, lawyers, journalists and judges in order to share the Cuban experience in winning and ratifying their new Family Code. People in the US were able to dialogue directly with Cuban officials, and many expressed their admiration for the victory.
Bristol, Bristol University Press, 2021. x+230 pp., € 26.10 pb. ISBN 978-1529211672
Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer
Carl Rhodes’ latest book about ‘Woke Capitalism’ is asking us to ‘be alert’, i.e., woke to capitalism. The title of the book is transferring the African-American term ‘woke’ meaning to be alert about racism and racial prejudice – to capitalism. Yet, woke capitalism is a particular form of capitalism. To illuminate this and how woke capitalism sets up corporate morality – a contradictory term or tautology – is indeed ‘sabotaging democracy’ (the book’s sub-title), Rhodes offers thirteen highly readable and often rather entertaining chapters. The book begins with ‘The Problem of Woke Capitalism’ and ends with ‘Getting Woke about Woke Capitalism’.
Princeton University Press, 2021, 248pp., £25.00 hb, £17.99 pb ISBN9780691241753
Reviewed by Steph Marston
Mary Wollstonecraft has the perfect biography for an enduring feminist heroine: an independent woman earning her living through combative political writings, whose work was alternately praised or denigrated, depending on whether her gender was evident; a passionate woman disregarding social conventions in her relationships with men and steadfast in her friendships with other women; an adventurous woman who went to live in France during the revolution and who travelled in Scandinavia, subsequently publishing a collection of letters so eloquent that they inspired the Romantic poets. Her professional activities and personal choices may appear to cast her as a woman ahead of her times, as familiar to twenty-first century readers as our contemporaries.
The emergence of COVID-19 has drawn the attention of health researchers sharply back to the role that food systems can play in generating human disease burden. But emerging pandemic threats are just one dimension of the complex relationship between agriculture and infectious disease, which is evolving rapidly, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) that are undergoing rapid food system transformation. We examine this changing relationship through four current disease issues. The first is that greater investment in irrigation to improve national food security raises risks of vector-borne disease, which we illustrate with the case of malaria and rice in Africa. The second is that the intensification of livestock production in LMICs brings risks of zoonotic diseases like cysticercosis, which need to be managed as consumer demand grows. The third is that the nutritional benefits of increasing supply of fresh vegetables, fruit, and animal-sourced foods in markets in LMICs pose new food-borne disease risks, which might undermine supply. The fourth issue is that the potential human health risks of antimicrobial resistance from agriculture are intensified by changing livestock production. For each disease issue, we explore how food system transition is creating unintentional infectious disease risks, and what solutions might exist for these problems. We show that successfully addressing all of these challenges requires a coordinated approach between public health and agricultural sectors, recognising the costs and benefits of disease-reducing interventions to both, and seeking win–win solutions that are most likely to attract broad policy support and uptake by food systems.