The first in a series of critical introductions to thinkers and concepts that inform discussion of the climate crisis, looking at Murray Bookchin's ideas about technology.
Murray Bookchin (1921-2006) was a pioneer of radical ecological thought and working class autodidact. Bookchin's political trajectory took him from Stalinism (as a 9 year-old, he was soon expelled), to Trotskyism, to anarchism, to eventually breaking with anarchism and founding libertarian municipalism/communalism in an attempt to engage with the local state.
Chapter 3 and portions of Chapter 4 from Jean-Marc Mandosio’s book, Après l'effondrement: notes sur l'utopie néotechnologique (Éditions de l'Encyclopédie des Nuisances, 2000), in which the author discusses the disastrous effects of what he calls “neotechnology” on the human species and how these disasters are imposed as wonderful innovations in all domains, from music and books to genetic engineering, resulting in a “four-fold collapse” affecting the human perception of time and space, the ability to think, and “the very idea of humanity itself”.
Liguria, with its beautiful coastline and wonderful mountainous hinterland, has been a place for people from Northern Europe and the north of Italy to take holidays since the 19th century. After the Second World War the region saw a boom in tourism and in industrial development with all the attendant consequences: illegal building activity, destruction of the environment, very large numbers of migrants and urbanisation of the rural population.
Today the region is being hit by de-industrialization and a difficult rebuilding of the economy. Local government is focusing on mass tourism (particularly cruise ships) and port development, seemingly ignoring the increasingly impoverished population which pays the environmental costs of the associated pollution.
A brief critique of the existing model of heat production in Britain and a comparison with a communal system. If you thought things were rosy in the garden, think again...
Part of domestic living in Britain is receiving hot water and heating from a boiler that serves one property alone. In fact, around 93% of households have a single appliance in homes where typically the number of occupants per household is around 2.5. Natural gas is the majority fuel by far for all heat needs within homes and non-domestic buildings.
Announcing a new collaborative blog project to investigate capitalism and climate change.
This blog has been set up to investigate one of the most pressing issues of our time: anthropogenic climate change (a.k.a. global warming). Climate change poses serious questions about the viability of both the capitalist mode of production and the global states system, and forces us to confront questions of technology and humanity’s relation to (the rest of) nature. These are huge questions.
Neither we IWWs, nor green syndicalists, for that matter, are arguing for "One Big Factory" in any case. What we are saying is that we recognize that in order to abolish the worst aspects of "industrialism", (capitalism), at least part of the strategy must involve seizing the machinery of production.
It's what happens after that which is the bone of contention. We argue that at least some industry is necessary for people to live and prosper.
By Steve Ongerth - December 31, 2013
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.
The IWW (and green syndicalists) want to replace capitalism with "One Big (earth destroying) Factory", or so the story goes among some self-described radicals who would so quickly dismiss us.
To say the IWW has an I-dentity crises would be the mother of all understatements. For half a century, we Wobblies have struggled to disabuse people of the widely believed--though completely erroneous--notion that the "I" in "IWW" stands for "International". No, we're not the "International Workers of the World," we're the Industrial Workers of the World.
It would be a major digression to explain how the "International" mislabeling came about. We're not really certain even we know, and that is not actually the heart of the matter I wish to address. Thanks to recent scholarship and a spate of really good books about the One Big Union, perhaps resulting from the IWW's centenary in 2005, people are finally getting the actual "I-dentity" of our first initial right (finally). Of course, this carries with it a new set of I-dentity problems.
For many people, The word "industrial" conjures up images of a factory, with scenes from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle or other exposés of satanic mills vividly dominating those visions. Along with that notion, the horrors of Fordist factory regimentation of the worst sort enter their minds, and not without good reason.
As someone who actually worked in a factory (a steel processing warehouse in Fremont, California to be precise) albeit briefly (five months during the late spring and summer of 1997), I can attest to the veracity of what it's like to work in one of them. It's anything but paradise--though of course--I was working under capitalist economic conditions and the business union that allegedly "represented" me was a more than willing collaborator to them.
The machines were loud and dusty--not to mention greasy (lubricated with whale fat, no less!), the facility fraught with dangers, and the work rules stiffly regimented. Although there was a good deal of safety training (in fact we had weekly, hour-long meetings), it was still very much a death trap. No doubt the union, in this case, ILWU Local 6, had much to do with the token safety measures, but in spite of the union, the place was a deeply alienating work environment.
The minds of my fellow workers had been deeply and thoroughly colonized. Most of them were quite reactionary, and--being a male dominated work environment, deeply sexist and homophobic. They saw the union as an outside agency, and (rightfully) criticized it for its class collaborationism (if the myriad examples of graffiti decrying "Local Sux" evident throughout the grounds was any indication). However, such sentiments were no doubt welcomed or even tacitly encouraged by the bosses, and a year or two after I was "laid off" under somewhat questionable grounds, the union was busted when the facility relocated to Stockton, California.
One needn't work in a factory to understand it, though. During the post war boom, enough working class people did work in factories, and their stories have been passed on through family lore. If that isn't enough, there are plenty of accounts of what factory life is like. Consider, for example, Judi Bari's expose of working conditions in the Louisiana-Pacific sawmills of Mendocino County based on the first hand accounts of at least two mill workers.
When some hear that the "I" stands for "industrial", they immediately flash on such nightmare visions and assume that we Wobblies envision that the new society that we hope to build within the shell of the old will look like that! (horrors!!!)
Six short texts from a book published in 2012 (Anti-developmentalist Perspectives) largely based on talks given in 2009-2010 on the topic of the need for a transition from the economically, environmentally and spiritually unviable city-centered system of globalized capitalism to a new territorial dispersal of human society and productive activities, attaining a higher synthesis of the restoration of the liberating aspects of the city (freedom, public space) and the traditional virtues of the “territory” (local production, self-sufficiency) that can only be brought about by an anti-capitalist revolution.
Translated in January 2014 from the Spanish original as published in: Miguel Amorós, Perspectivas Antidesarrollistas, Editorial Germinal, Valle Maipo Bioregion, Winter 2012.
The above book is available online (January 2014) at: http://editorialgerminal.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/amorc3b3s.pdf