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Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Friday, April 14, 2017

climate as property

It is often said that Marx was for abolishing private property. This is a misreading of Marx, or a sort of misreading. Marx predicted that capitalism would abolish private property.

The paralysis before climate change has something to do with Marx's notion. It is the reason that it isn't surprising that the U.S., which has appropriated the atmosphere for depositing a hugely disproportionate amount of waste, is not eager to make up for it. One of the keys to understanding pollution in capitalism is that capitalism is not, despite the first grade propaganda, based on private property. It is based, rather, on larger property owners seizing the private property of smaller owners. It is all about social costs, and renting your body for zero cents and zero dollars to lodge their corporate chemicals in. This is where Marx's theory intervenes: he had a shrewd idea that the progress of capitalism was the inverse of what the proponents of capitalism claimed, as it progressively abolished private property by concentrating it in fewer and fewer hands. At the end of this process, Marx thought, the bargaining power of the working class would have to be expressed politically, in a revolution that would establish a new order founded on that capitalist accomplishment. I'm less sanguine than Marx that the last chapter will be written that way. But one way to start the discussion of climate change is to ask about your property rights to the cimate. Have they been respected?

1 comment:

p said...

unrelated:
https://www.ft.com/content/35eb38fc-1e02-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c