Capital and the Ecology of Disease
“The old Greek philosophers,” Frederick Engels wrote in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, “were all born natural dialecticians.”1 Nowhere was this more apparent than in ancient Greek medical thought, which was distinguished by its strong materialist and ecological basis. This dialectical, materialist, and ecological approach to epidemiology (from the ancient Greek epi, meaning on or upon, and demos, the people) was exemplified by the classic Hippocratic text Airs Waters Places (c. 400 BCE), which commenced:
Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus: in the first place to consider the seasons of the year, and what effects each of them produces, for they are not all alike, but differ from themselves in regard to their changes.
How corporations pumped up CEO pay while their low-wage workers suffered in the pandemic
During the pandemic, low-wage workers have lost income, jobs, and lives. And yet many of the nation’s top-tier corporations have been fixated on protecting their wealthy CEOs, even bending their own rules to pump up executive paychecks.
A new Institute for Policy Studies report finds that 51 of the country’s 100 largest low-wage employers moved bonus goalposts or made other rule changes in 2020 to give their CEOs 29 percent average raises while their frontline employees made 2 percent less.
Among these 51 rule-rigging companies, average CEO compensation was $15.3 million in 2020, while median worker pay was $28,187 on average. The average CEO- worker pay ratio: 830 to 1.
In defence of Metabolic Rift Theory
Since the turn of the millennium, one Marxist line of inquiry into environmental problems has outshone all others in creativity and productivity: the theory of the metabolic rift. Developed by John Bellamy Foster and his colleagues Richard York and Brett Clark, with crucial contributions from Paul Burkett and Marina Fischer-Kowalski and many others, it can be summed up in the following, highly condensed sequence. Nature consists of biophysical processes and cycles. So does society: human bodies must engage in metabolic exchanges with nonhuman nature. That need not be particularly harmful to any of the parties. Over the course of history, however, the relations through which humans have organized their Stoffwechsel might be fractured and forcibly rearranged, so that they not only harm the people disadvantaged by this change, but also, at the very same time, disturb the processes and cycles of nature. A metabolic rift has opened up.
Distilled through Foster’s pioneering exegesis, the theory makes inventive use of Marx’s comments in the third volume of Capital on how capitalist property relations “provoke an irreparable rift in the interdependent process of social metabolism, a metabolism prescribed by the natural laws of life itself”; operationalised in a variety of ways, it has elucidated everything from the imbalances in the global nitrogen cycle to climate change.
The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift
In the nineteenth century, Karl Marx, inspired by the German chemist Justus von Liebig, argued that capitalism’s relation to its natural environment was that of a robbery system, leading to an irreparable rift in the metabolism between humanity and nature. In the twenty-first century, these classical insights into capitalism’s degradation of the earth have become the basis of extraordinary advances in critical theory and practice associated with contemporary ecosocialism. In The Robbery of Nature, John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, working within this historical tradition, examine capitalism’s plundering of nature via commodity production, and how it has led to the current anthropogenic rift in the Earth System.
Departing from much previous scholarship, Foster and Clark adopt a materialist and dialectical approach, bridging the gap between social and environmental critiques of capitalism. The ecological crisis, they explain, extends beyond questions of traditional class struggle to a corporeal rift in the physical organization of living beings themselves, raising critical issues of social reproduction, racial capitalism, alienated speciesism, and ecological imperialism.
Lessons Learned From a Year of Closed Schools
An outbreak at a senior home, which would ultimately be linked to at least 37 deaths, had already shuttered three schools in the 24,000-student district for deep cleaning, the central office was inundated with calls and emails from frantic parents and school staff reporting potential new exposures and more than 20% of students had stopped coming in at all.
The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf
Based on research conducted in more than 20 countries as well as eyewitness accounts, this book refutes the misinformation disseminated by corporate media and government sources about U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Descriptions of war-torn Iraq during and after Operation Desert Storm illustrate the effect war crimes and violations of international law had on the Iraqi people; updated material examines how the people are still being affected more than a decade later.
Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq and the Future of the Dollar
The invasion of Iraq may well be remembered as the first oil currency war. Far from being a response to 9/11 terrorism or Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, Petrodollar Warfare argues that the invasion was precipitated by two converging phenomena: the imminent peak in global oil production and the ascendance of the euro currency.
Energy analysts agree that world oil supplies are about to peak, after which there will be a steady decline in supplies of oil. Iraq, possessing the world’s second-largest oil reserves, was therefore already a target of US geostrategic interests. Together with the fact that Iraq had switched to paying for oil in euros—rather than US dollars—the Bush administration’s unreported aim was to prevent further OPEC momentum in favor of the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency standard.
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