Friday, May 27, 2011
Environmentalism should be embedded in a Marxist theory of socioeconomic development like Kalecki's, revisited by Jayati Ghosh in "Michal Kalecki and the Economics of Development." The main question underlying Kalecki's theory, as Ghosh sums up, was this: "which groups in society (or outside) would bear the burden of increasing capital formation through reductions in consumption"? This question can and should be supplemented by anthropocentric environmental concerns, i.e. quality of life questions: Which groups in society (or outside) would bear the burden of increasing capital formation through reductions in the environmental quality of life? Which groups in society (or outside) would bear the burden of increasing the environmental quality of life through reductions in consumption? Explicitly asked thus, the fact that it's all a matter of politically determined trade-offs becomes clear. Such an approach would be more useful to leftists actively involved in governments, political parties, and social movements than an approach that seeks to develop an enviro-Marxist crisis theory.
Friday, May 13, 2011
The 2010-2011 Arab revolts have been compared to many historical events. One of the analogies brought up by pundits is the 1848 wave of revolutions in Europe. But it doesn't look like an Arab 1848 in one crucial respect. Not a single monarchy has been toppled, and, with the exception of Bahrain, monarchies have so far faced far less challenges than republics, allowing the former to regroup and work with the empire for counter-revolution.
Friday, May 06, 2011
The 2010-2011 Arab revolts were billed as youth revolts, a kind of belated sixties for the Arab world so to speak, but the new leaders that they are likely to bring into power -- including in Tunisia and Egypt, the most successful cases -- will be all older than Bashar al-Assad. Very ironic.
Sunday, May 01, 2011
Not very, according to Graham Usher's dispatch: "The Reawakening of Nahda in Tunisia" (MERIP, 30 April 2011). A few days before the publication of this article, moreover, the Financial Times reported: "Politicians . . . agree that the Islamist party [Nahda] could well emerge as the single largest in the assembly. Secular parties, both liberal and leftist, are fragmented while traditional parties are just learning how to run for genuine elections." Tunisia is said to be among the most secular countries in North Africa and West Asia. But even here the balance of ideological and organizational forces does not appear to favor secular leftists after the revolution.