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Joel Kovel meeting - why I'm sceptical about "eco-socialism"

Recently I went to a lecture by Joel Kovel, a leading US eco-socialist and author of the book, The Enemy of Nature. The meeting was chaired by Derek Wall from the Green Party and had Jane Kelly from Socialist Resistance on the platform. Over 50 people were there.

Kovel spoke well enough about the destructiveness of capitalism and about how a socialist society would be sustainable. However he said there was no privileged agent in the fight for a better society, instead talking about a movement of ”the commons”, and listing Cuba, Venezuela and the Zapatistas as prefigurative examples.

I put it to him that this was a “classless ecology” and that green socialists are essentially activists who had given up on the working class. Kovel backtracked a bit and said that the labour movement was important – but he conspicuously failed to outline any kind of working class environmentalist programme or strategy for convincing workers to take up the issues.

Other pressed him on these points, but his answers were not coherent. He has essentially systematised the uncoupling of ends and means, borrowing bits from Marx but missing the locus of Marxist politics – that is, the working class movement. Derek Wall and his Green Left caucus suffer from the same malaise.

No one from Socialist Resistance explained why they are prepared to go along with this – although by signing Kovel’s eco-socialist manifesto and calling themselves eco-socialists they seem to be entering into some sort of explicit alliance with Green Left people. They seem to be heading from the demoralisation of Respect to the blind alley of the Green Party.

The AWL, Labour and the Left
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