Tag Archives: Ecology

Socialism of the New Century: Sunil

Guest post by SUNIL

[Sunil is the national vice-president of Samajwadi Jan Parishad. This  article was written for a special issue of Janata weekly. The essay is an important statement from one of the leading activist-theorists of the socialist movement (i.e. non-Marxist socialism) which does not simply disavow the marxist legacy but engages with that experience as an essential component of socialist practice. AN]

The tussle between capitalism and socialism as alternative visions of human society is not yet over. It is like the old fable of the race between a hare and a tortoise. At times one seems to be the winner. At other times the other seems to be leading. Capitalism is like the hare of the story. It looks fast, impressive and dynamic but after some time it is tired and resting with its own contradictions. In the end, we know it is the tortoise of socialism which will prevail. But that end is yet to be arrived at.

Capitalism looked supreme and unchallengeable in the later decades of the past century. With the disintegration of USSR, reverting of China, Vietnam and many other communist countries to the path of capitalism, and downfall of social democracy in Europe, there was no challenge to capitalism. Thus ‘end of history’ was arrogantly announced. Market fundamentalism of Reagan and Thatcher varieties started ruling over the world. But soon many crises arrived. Ecological crisis with the dangers of climate change and global warming on the one hand, and the global financial crisis with the worst recession since the thirties on the other, shook the faith in the supremacy and immortality of capitalist civilization. Added to these were the growing crises of hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, violence and war. The number of hungry people in the world kept growing and crossed the figure of 100 cores in the first decade of the twenty first century i.e. every sixth person on the earth today remains underfed and starved. This is perhaps the biggest and the most glaring failure of capitalism. Even after more than two centuries of the industrial revolution and miraculous progress of science and technology, it is unable to fulfill even the most basic need of the humankind.

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Quepem by the kilo: Hartman de Souza on Mining in Goa

I am posting below a requiem to Quepem by my old friend Hartman. It reads eerily like a companion piece to the curatorial essay to Manifesta 7 by Raqs, posted earlier on Kafila. Raqs wrote:

Mountains are flattened to mine bauxite, the main aluminium ore. Mountains of aluminium waste may eventually take their place…The “rest of now” is the residue that lies at the heart of contemporaneity. It is what persists from moments of transformation, and what falls through the cracks of time. It is history’s obstinate remainder, haunting each addition and subtraction with arithmetic persistence, endlessly carrying over what cannot be accounted for. The rest of now is the excess, which pushes us towards respite, memory and slowing things down.

And here’s Hartman:

As you read this, mourn the brutal rape and murder of half a dozen steep, thickly forested hills barely 12 kilometres from Quepem town in south Goa. These form an integral link of the magnificent Western Ghats that surround Goa, and as any schoolchild studying the environment will tell you, they play a crucial role in providing Goa its ecological wellbeing.

And yet, in blatant contravention of wisdom we purport to impart to children, hundreds of forests are being cut down around Quepem even as I write this. The denuded land turned inside out so fast, a hill can disappear in three months, leaving behind suppurating wounds that go down so deep the giant tipper trucks at the bottom look like the harmless toys little boys plays with.

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Whose woods these are….

…. I think I know?

If the latest developments at the Bali Summit are anything to go by -the answer to this question is going to become very contentious in the coming years. Armed with a mandate to cut, capture, and squester carbon; Governments, International Organisations, and private companies have been working hard at arriving at a means to bring forests under the carbon market – and possibly use carbon in forests as a tradable commodity. What this means for the future of our forests is uncertain.

There are several components that can be considered under the Forests and REDD – Reduction of emissions from Deforestation and Degraded Land in developing countries. Some of the big ones are afforestation programmes, deforestation reduction programmes, carbon capture and squestering (CCS), the rights on indigenous peoples and forest dwellers, the Clean Development Mechanism and conservation. Each carries with it an entire lexicon and phrase-ology of its own.

I mentioned in previous posts, it is one of the most interesting issues at the conference – and one I hope to deal with at length in my article for Frontline – which I shall have to work on very soon. In the meantime, jus to get interested readers up-to-speed, am appending to articles that I have written for the The Hindu. They should provide the briefest of introductions. Note that the articles correspond to standards of objectivity required in “Hard News” reportage – Shall write an opinion piece for Kafila soon. In the meantime, I would urge careful readers to read against, for, below, above and around the text.

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