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with the reality of the catastrophic effects of climate change and other forms of ecological devastation looming down on humanity, i’m struck by the apocalyptic but also messianic themes in this mural by Diego Rivera.  i think he captures well how the possibilities behind humanity’s future depend on mass self-activity by the working class and oppressed.

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Palestine lends towards developing an ecological politics rooted in the demands of the most oppressed layers of society, notably women and people of color.  the issues of population control and resource scarcity are debated not just in the ecology movement, but also between Palestine solidarity activists and the proponents of Israeli apartheid and occupation.  as the video points out, the forms of resource scarcity — in this case water — which the ruling classes reference are politically and socially fabricated.  in the case of Palestine it’s used as a means to take more land and resources, and continue Israel’s campaign of ethnically cleansing Palestine.

but theories of population control and resource scarcity are attached at the hip.  in the ecology movement, white supremacists make the same arguments about resource scarcity and point to larger birth rates in people of color nations, ignoring the vastly greater production and consumption habits for developed (read mostly white) nations in regards to underdeveloped (read mostly people of color) nations.  these debates came up in the Copenhagen talks as China and India were blamed for the current levels of carbon concentration in the atmosphere.  some of these racists have sought to curb the further development of these people of color nations, while others have advocated restrictive population control measures for women and families of color.

this of course ignores both years of struggle by women to control their own bodies and the social roots of the burgeoning population growth in the Third World.  part of this can be explained by imperial policies of underdevelopment that restrict the availability of birth control techniques and technologies for women to choose.  it should also be noted that imperialism will at times bloc with the most patriarchal and reactionary elements in dominated nations.  the US occupation of Afghanistan is one example.

when it comes to Palestine, Zionists cite fears of being demographically overrun by Palestinians.  their primary concern is maintaining the Jewish character of the state which is threatened by a faster rate of growth of the Palestinian population in contrast to the Jewish occupants of historic Palestine.  the patriarchal and racist history of eugenics is, here too, at the center of these politics.

all this being said, i don’t think the science of population control should be rejected completely.  it just needs to be taken up from an anti-racist and anti-patriarchal perspective, which involves a social explanations of the ecological crisis, and the crafting of demands on the terms of these oppressed peoples.

one of the things i hope to do on this blog is to keep a running archive of past struggles, and the different Left groups that have taken up eco-struggles.  i think it’s important to note both how groups have fought back, and how different groups have understood those struggles.

i’ve been combing through some of the older issues of Midnight Notes trying to save some of their stuff even if i don’t get the time to read it right away.  one of the articles i did read was from the 1990 publication of their journal on a major strike at a paper mill company in Jay, Maine.  this article on the strike at International Paper (IP) is a must read for union militants and students of working class struggle.

that issue of the journal deals with what they call the ‘new enclosure movement’ by the ruling classes.  they’re referring to the way capitalism and the state has embarked on a process of cannibalizing its own infrastructure and attacking the gains and wages of working class peoples in order to stave off the crisis of falling profits; in a word, neoliberalism.  Midnight Notes is drawing references to the way the first capitalists dispossessed peasants and craftsmen of land rights and the means of production creating both capitalism and the working class — people who must sell their labor power to the bosses in exchange for a wage because they don’t possess the means (tools, land or otherwise) to create commodities or value.

the strike in Jay lasted for over a year and ended in defeat.  it was part of the general attack on unions and working class forms of social solidarity that has occurred under neoliberalism, one of the big ones being Reagan’s crushing of the airtraffic controllers strike, and the breaking of their union.  there are a few points about the strike that i think are important for thinking about ecological struggles.

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