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Monthly Review: COVID-19 and the Circuits of Capital
How to characterize such systems beyond, as we did above, the episodic and circumstantial? Our group is in the midst of deriving a model that outstrips efforts by the modern colonial medicine found in ecohealth and One Health that continues to blame the indigenous and local smallholders for the deforestation that leads to the emergence of deadly diseases.

Our general theory of neoliberal disease emergence, including, yes, in China, combines:

global circuits of capital;
deployment of said capital destroying regional environmental complexity that keeps virulent pathogen population growth in check;
the resulting increases in the rates and taxonomic breadth of spillover events;
the expanding periurban commodity circuits shipping these newly spilled over pathogens in livestock and labor from the deepest hinterland to regional cities;
the growing global travel (and livestock trade) networks that deliver the pathogens from said cities to the rest of the world in record time;
the ways these networks lower transmission friction, selecting for the evolution of greater pathogen deadliness in both livestock and people;
and, among other impositions, the dearth of reproduction on-site in industrial livestock, removing natural selection as an ecosystems service that provides real-time (and nearly free) disease protection.

The underlying operative premise is that the cause of COVID-19 and other such pathogens is not found just in the object of any one infectious agent or its clinical course, but also in the field of ecosystemic relations that capital and other structural causes have pinned back to their own advantage.65 The wide variety of pathogens, representing different taxa, source hosts, modes of transmission, clinical courses, and epidemiological outcomes, all the earmarks that send us running wild-eyed to our search engines upon each outbreak, mark different parts and pathways along the same kinds of circuits of land use and value accumulation.
neoliberalism  covid_19  extractivism  deforestation  capitalism  US_imperialism  banks  agriculture  meat_industry 
10 days ago by oceanicbeloved
Deep-Sea Mining and the Race to the Bottom of the Ocean - The Atlantic
It’s underwater—and the consequences are unimaginable. Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean.
additivism  batteries  environment  extractivism  lithium  mining  ocean  stream 
december 2019 by therourke
Care and Repair: Left Politics in the Age of Climate Change
“If the free-market system really has set in motion physical and chemical processes that, if allowed to continue even for one more decade, threaten large parts of humanity at an existential level, then their entire crusade to morally redeem capitalism has been for naught. With stakes like these, clearly greed is not so very good after all. And that is what is behind the surge in climate change denial among hard-core conservatives: no, they have not lost their minds. They simply understand that as soon as they admit that climate change is real, they will lose the central ideological battle of our time—whether we need to plan and manage our societies to reflect our goals and values, or whether that task can be left to the magic of markets.

Here’s my inconvenient truth: I think these hard-core ideologues understand the real significance of climate change better than most of the moderates in the so-called center, the ones who are still insisting that the response can be gradual and painless and that we don’t need to go to war with anybody, including the fossil-fuel companies. The deniers get plenty of the details wrong (no, it’s not a communist plot; authoritarian state socialism, as we will see, was terrible for the environment and brutally extractivist), but when it comes to the scope and depth of change required to avert catastrophe, they are right on the money.”



“One last connection I will mention has to do with the concept of “repair.” Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey’s Green New Deal resolution, introduced in the House and Senate in February 2019, called for creating well-paying jobs “restoring and protecting threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems,” as well as “cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites, ensuring economic development and sustainability on those sites.”

There are many such sites across the United States, entire landscapes that have been left to waste after they were no longer useful to frackers, miners, and drillers. It’s a lot like how this culture treats people. It’s what has been done to so many workers in the neoliberal period, using them up and then abandoning them to addiction and despair. It’s what the entire carceral state is about: locking up huge sectors of the population who are more economically useful as prison laborers and numbers on the spreadsheet of a private prison than they are as free workers. And the old New Deal did it too, by choosing to exclude and discard so many black and brown and women workers.

There is a grand story to be told here about the duty to repair—to repair our relationship with the earth and with one another, to heal the deep wounds dating back to the founding of the country. Because while it is true that climate change is a crisis produced by an excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it is also, in a more profound sense, a crisis produced by an extractive mindset—a way of viewing both the natural world and the majority of its inhabitants as resources to use up and then discard. I call it the “gig and dig” economy and firmly believe that we will not emerge from this crisis without a shift in worldview, a transformation from “gig and dig” to an ethos of care and repair.

If these kinds of deeper connections between fractured people and a fast-warming planet seem far beyond the scope of policy makers, it’s worth thinking back to the absolutely central role of artists during the New Deal era. Playwrights, photographers, muralists, and novelists were all part of a renaissance of both realist and utopian art. Some held up a mirror to the wrenching misery that the New Deal sought to alleviate. Others opened up spaces for Depression-ravaged people to imagine a world beyond that misery. Both helped get the job done in ways that are impossible to quantify.

In a similar vein, there is much to learn from indigenous-led movements in Bolivia and Ecuador that have placed at the center of their calls for ecological transformation the concept of buen vivir, a focus on the right to a good life as opposed to more and more and more life of endless consumption.

The Green New Deal will need to be subject to constant vigilance and pressure from experts who understand exactly what it will take to lower our emissions as rapidly as science demands, and from social movements that have decades of experience bearing the brunt of false climate solutions, whether nuclear power, the chimera of carbon capture and storage, or carbon offsets.

But in remaining vigilant, we also have to be careful not to bury the overarching message: that this is a potential lifeline that we all have a sacred and moral responsibility to reach for.”
naomiklein  greennewdeal  capitalism  extractivism  climate  climatechange  socialism  values  centrism 
december 2019 by robertogreco
A Giant Bumptious Litter: Donna Haraway on Truth, Technology, and Resisting Extinction
"Socialists aren’t the only ones who have been techno-utopian, of course. A far more prominent and more influential strand of techno-utopianism has come from the figures around the Bay Area counterculture associated with the Whole Earth Catalog, in particular Stewart Brand, who went on to play important intellectual and cultural roles in Silicon Valley.

They are not friends. They are not allies. I’m avoiding calling them enemies because I’m leaving open the possibility of their being able to learn or change, though I’m not optimistic. I think they occupy the position of the “god trick.” [Eds.: The “god trick” is an idea introduced by Haraway that refers to the traditional view of objectivity as a transcendent “gaze from nowhere.”] I think they are blissed out by their own privileged positions and have no idea what their own positionality in the world really is. And I think they cause a lot of harm, both ideologically and technically.

How so?

They get a lot of publicity. They take up a lot of the air in the room.

It’s not that I think they’re horrible people. There should be space for people pushing new technologies. But I don’t see nearly enough attention given to what kinds of technological innovation are really needed to produce viable local and regional energy systems that don’t depend on species-destroying solar farms and wind farms that require giant land grabs in the desert.

The kinds of conversations around technology that I think we need are those among folks who know how to write law and policy, folks who know how to do material science, folks who are interested in architecture and park design, and folks who are involved in land struggles and solidarity movements. I want to see us do much savvier scientific, technological, and political thinking with each other, and I want to see it get press. The Stewart Brand types are never going there.

Do you see clear limitations in their worldviews and their politics?

They remain remarkably humanist in their orientation, in their cognitive apparatus, and in their vision of the world. They also have an almost Peter Pan quality. They never quite grew up. They say, “If it’s broken, fix it.”

This comes from an incapacity to mourn and an incapacity to be finite. I mean that psychoanalytically: an incapacity to understand that there is no status quo ante, to understand that death and loss are real. Only within that understanding is it possible to open up to a kind of vitality that isn’t double death, that isn’t extermination, and which doesn’t yearn for transcendence, yearn for the fix.

There’s not much mourning with the Stewart Brand types. There’s not much felt loss of the already disappeared, the already dead — the disappeared of Argentina, the disappeared of the caravans, the disappeared of the species that will not come back. You can try to do as much resurrection biology as you want to. But any of the biologists who are actually involved in the work are very clear that there is no resurrection.

You have also been critical of the Anthropocene, as a proposed new geological epoch defined by human influence on the earth. Do you see the idea of the Anthropocene as having similar limitations?

I think the Anthropocene framework has been a fertile container for quite a lot, actually. The Anthropocene has turned out to be a rather capacious territory for incorporating people in struggle. There are a lot of interesting collaborations with artists and scientists and activists going on.

The main thing that’s too bad about the term is that it perpetuates the misunderstanding that what has happened is a human species act, as if human beings as a species necessarily exterminate every planet we dare to live on. As if we can’t stop our productive and reproductive excesses.

Extractivism and exterminationism are not human species acts. They come from a situated historical conjuncture of about five hundred years in duration that begins with the invention of the plantation and the subsequent modeling of industrial capitalism. It is a situated historical conjuncture that has had devastating effects even while it has created astonishing wealth.

To define this as a human species act affects the way a lot of scientists think about the Anthropocene. My scientist colleagues and friends really do continue to think of it as something human beings can’t stop doing, even while they understand my historical critique and agree with a lot of it.

It’s a little bit like the relativism versus objectivity problem. The old languages have a deep grip. The situated historical way of thinking is not instinctual for Western science, whose offspring are numerous.

Are there alternatives that you think could work better than the Anthropocene?

There are plenty of other ways of thinking. Take climate change. Now, climate change is a necessary and essential category. But if you go to the circumpolar North as a Southern scientist wanting to collaborate with Indigenous people on climate change — on questions of changes in the sea ice, for example, or changes in the hunting and subsistence base — the limitations of that category will be profound. That’s because it fails to engage with the Indigenous categories that are actually active on the ground.

There is an Inuktitut word, “sila.” In an Anglophone lexicon, “sila” will be translated as “weather.” But in fact, it’s much more complicated. In the circumpolar North, climate change is a concept that collects a lot of stuff that the Southern scientist won’t understand. So the Southern scientist who wants to collaborate on climate change finds it almost impossible to build a contact zone.

Anyway, there are plenty of other ways of thinking about shared contemporary problems. But they require building contact zones between cognitive apparatuses, out of which neither will leave the same as they were before. These are the kinds of encounters that need to be happening more.

A final question. Have you been following the revival of socialism, and socialist feminism, over the past few years?

Yes.

What do you make of it? I mean, socialist feminism is becoming so mainstream that even Harper’s Bazaar is running essays on “emotional labor.”

I’m really pleased! The old lady is happy. I like the resurgence of socialism. For all the horror of Trump, it has released us. A whole lot of things are now being seriously considered, including mass nonviolent social resistance. So I am not in a state of cynicism or despair."
donnaharaway  2019  californianideology  interviews  wholeearthcatalog  stewartbrand  technosolutionism  technology  climatechange  extinction  deminism  ontology  cynicism  resistance  siliconvalley  objectivity  ideology  science  politics  policy  loss  mourning  biology  resurrection  activism  humans  multispecies  morethanhuman  extractivism  exterminationism  plantations  capitalism  industrialism  history  indigenous  socialism 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Capitalism’s New Clothes | Evgeny Morozov
Zuboff’s Copernican revolution is much easier to explain by its debt to Chandler than Foucault. Chandler’s own prescriptions were usually limited to demanding that managers be more responsible. Zuboff transcends such defeatism. But her double movement will not win before both managerial capitalism and surveillance capitalism are theorized as “capitalism”—a complex set of historical and social relationships between capital and labor, the state and the monetary system, the metropole and the periphery—and not just as an aggregate of individual firms responding to imperatives of technological and social change. That the latter, miniaturized account of competitive enterprise is the working definition of “capitalism” in American business schools is no reason to impoverish the broader discussion of the system’s rationales and shortcomings.
surveillanceCapitalism  ZuboffShoshana  surveillance  Facebook  Google  businessModels  economics  capitalism  SiliconValley  power  control  ChandlerAlfred  HarvardBusinessSchool  managerialism  ParsonsTalcott  data  predictions  behaviour  Apple  Negri  autonomism  Italy  socialFactory  multitude  post-industrialism  Blairism  Taylorism  extractivism  advertising  Amazon  Uber  dctagged  dc:creator=MorozovEvgeny 
february 2019 by petej

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