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What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism Kindle Edition

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Length: 188 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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About the Author

Fred Magdoff taught at the University of Vermont in Burlington, is a director of the Monthly Review Foundation, and has written on political economy for many years. He is most recently the author (with John Bellamy Foster) of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press).



John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review. He is professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and author of The Ecological Revolution, The Great Financial Crisis (with Fred Magdoff), Critique of Intelligent Design (with Brett Clark and Richard York), Ecology Against Capitalism, Marx’s Ecology, and The Vulnerable Planet.


Product Details

  • File Size: 349 KB
  • Print Length: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press (June 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005J36WSW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Planey on November 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism" is Magdoff and Foster's attempt to convince environmentalists that the radical ecologist position is correct. Because of the enormity of ocean acidification, overpopulation, and climate change, drastic measures will be necessary in the near future in order to avoid the undoing of earth as a livable planet. According to the authors though, the problem environmentalists face is even larger than the directly visible aspects of ecological degradation. Rates of resource consumption between nations are generally deeply unequal, with nations such as the U.S. representing the bulk of humanity's resource consumption. And yet, governments and international corporations in ALL parts of the world, not just the first world, enthusiastically participate in ecological destruction through the production of pollutants and insane rates of material extraction + consumption. Working-class and indigenous people usually bear the brunt of capitalism's anti-ecological effects. Plenty of corporations pay lip service to the idea of being "green," but their efforts are usually paltry, or in the case of BP, once considered to be at the forefront of corporate green activism, a ruse that covers up their role in destroying food supplies and ecosystems. These phenomena may appear to be disparate in origin, but Magdoff and Foster argue that they are undoubtedly connected, and that they all spring from the capitalist relation to nature. Their argument can be summed up as follows:

1. Capitalism is a system of profit. The goal of capitalism is to take limited resources and limited labor-time and transform them into maximum profit.

2. Capitalism always grows in size.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. Holleman on October 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism is an important book for seasoned environmental activists and scholars as well as newcomers to the realization that we are facing historical crises. It is also a great book for teachers to consider assigning in high school and college courses, or to recommend for student groups and book clubs, because the issues raised in an approachable way here are so central to the preparation all students need to understand the world they are inheriting and the kinds of problems they confront. Activists for social justice causes will find this a prime source for understanding why the poor, women, and people of color globally have the most to lose as a result of the crisis and many of the proposed solutions, which will exacerbate inequalities. The book offers a strong but succinct overview of the central conflict of our times: that between global economic growth and both the sustainability of our planet's ecology and social justice.

While challenging Capitalism may seem a daunting, impossible, or utopian task to those for whom it is the only system they have ever known or can imagine, an honest assessment of the systemic causes of our social and environmental problems requires it. This book shows why there are increasing numbers of environmental reforms and technological developments while the scale of the environmental crisis only increases. At the same time, the authors explain that without focusing on immediate threats, like climate change, things will be even worse. In sum, the point of the What Can Be Done Now? section starting on page 124 is to explain clearly why immediate environmental reform must be a priority, but must be part of a larger struggle for an end to the system that makes real solutions impossible.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book in which the authors clearly and succinctly demonstrate that the capitalist economic system is inherently incompatible with the long-term sustainability of the environment. Most environmentalists will have a hard time swallowing this inconvenient truth since they are made to believe that green or ecologically friendly technologies will come to the rescue and business as usual, i.e., capitalism and profit accumulation as usual, can continue unabatedly (see, for example: Natural Capitalism: The Next Industrial Revolution). But, as the authors convincingly show, technological efficiency improvements (e.g., more energy efficient cars) are used by corporations to gain a competitive advantage, to increase sales and profits, rather than to protect the environment.

To strengthen the case against the belief that capitalism, i.e., infinite economic growth and profit maximization, can be compatible with a clean environment, I recommend Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us Or the Environment. The authors show that technological innovation within the current capitalistic economic system will lead to more resource use and pollution, and that a paradigm shift, including a change to a no-growth steady-state economic system, is needed to achieve sustainability. The concept of a steady-state economy has been pioneered by Herman Daly for decades. If not familiar with this concept,
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