Around the idea of ecological socialism

Marcus Eduardo de Oliveira (*)

These are some central points of discussion on what is usually called ecological socialism, or as some prefer eco-socialism: to radically change economic rationality, to approach the concerns of economics as part of the need to liberate man, to create a new environment for the life of every human being without the usual division that giving privileges to some at the expense of many and recognize definitely the existence of limits to growth.

Socialism, yes, is in the direction of elevating the social and political bonds that relate, first, to Mother Earth. Socialism moves in the direction of giving true criticism to a "god-capitalism" which states as its basic idea that the market, the sacred altar of money, can do anything. This socialism, defended here, is put in a position contrary to that premise, believing that the market is unable to solve everything and that the world cannot live only for consumption and more consumption, as the "god-capitalism" always wanted and wants to be so.

Who has eyes to see knows that there is a contradiction between capital and nature and it should be rethought in light of a new perspective that includes essentially and preferably, the human being inside the object of analysis of economic models, on the premise that the world is not, as we said, an object, a simple commodity ready to be digested by greedy mouths. Ecological socialism, eco-socialism, is to disprove the god-market and put new rules in the game, defending the basic underpinnings of life, condemning first the consumption artificially induced by advertising that provides for the survival of that "god" mentioned herein.

This ecological socialism advocated by Mexican economist Enrique Leff, by sociologist Michael Lowy, by Victor Wallis, John Bellamy Foster, Jean-Marie Harribey, Raymond Williams, David Pepper and many other names of prominence in academia, points to the need to instill in the collective imagination the fact that every time capital is built on the ruins of nature life for everyone comes into danger.

Maybe that's why Enrique Leff rightly points out that "the economy is generating the entropic death of the world." This "death" to be understood, becomes clearer when one realizes that the only concern of the "Lords of the World Economy" is about saving big business, not saving the planet and life. By the way, it would be better to say saving lives, since the planet will be able to live without us, as it is independent of our presence to survive.

On the side of the economy and voracious consumerism, the god-market basis, which destroys everything in the name of meeting the dictates of marketing, we are cognizant that the order of macroeconomics commanded by these "Gentlemen" is one: for the global economy to grow and grow and grow increasingly. On the other hand, for the sake of survival and respect for the laws of life, the order is one of ecology: fight for the possibility of ensuring the survival of our species.

While the fact is that it is no longer possible to accept the marketing sermon that makes a minority prosper while the majority know closely the drama of exclusion in a society that seems not to be otherwise beyond that of consumerist, inspired by advertising, funded by capital, destroyer of nature.

Those who defend the model to make the economy grow without limits to promote the "general happiness" as if it were feasible, and as if there was not any kind of socioeconomic difference, are wrong to ignore that this "growth" is dependent on the laws of nature and that nature in all its amplitude, is not (and never will be) able to account for this growth policy.


Finally, what is ecosocialism? To Lowy, "It is the question of a current of ecological thought and action that takes on the fundamental achievements of socialism while getting rid of the madness for over production." But the sociologist John Bellamy Foster has defined eco-socialism as "the rational regulation of production, respecting the relationship between metabolic social systems and natural systems in order to guarantee the satisfaction of common needs for present and future generations."

Therefore, the definition given by Foster is not far from the recommendation made by the Brundtland Report. To better illustrate this issue there are three aspects to highlight the position of Foster. They are:

* Recognition of the limits to growth and the break with the productivist logic that associates the increase in welfare with a production increase. The prefix echo the word socialism means to reconcile intra-generational equality with equal inter-generational;

* The reformulation of the production system in order to make it dependent solely on the use of renewable resources, linking with the previous principle. It should be noted that sustainability requires a use of renewable resources at a pace that ensures its renewal;

* The social use of nature, focusing on community management of common resources.

As seen, the terms eco-socialism and ecological socialism are far from being mere idioms or mere romantic rhetoric. They are, moreover, concepts that gain relevant outlines in a world that lives intensely in the most serious ecological crisis in history. For the good of all, the thought is in defense of sustainability that grows stronger day by day. Nature and life will thank you.

Marcus Eduardo de Oliveira is an economist and professor of economics and the FAC-FITO UNIFIEO in Sao Paulo. Member of GECEU - Group Study of Foreign Trade (UNIFIEO) and writer EcoDebate Portal, the website "The Economist" and Zwela News Agency (Angola).

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Lisa Karpova