Books: The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology

13 November 2020 —  Climate & Capitalism

Essential Reading
Bulletin: On the day this review was published, it was announced that The Return of Nature has won this year’s Deutscher Memorial Prize, awarded annually to “a book which exemplifies the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition.”

John Bellamy Foster’s brilliant recovery of a century of ecological and socialist thought will inform, enable, and inspire a new generation of reds and greens


John Bellamy Foster
THE RETURN OF NATURE
Socialism and Ecology

Monthly Review Press, 2020

reviewed by Peter Critchley

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A Late Victorian Utopia – Wilde’s Socialism in Context By James Thompson

23 January 2014 — New Left Project

For Oscar Wilde, 1891 was a busy year. In addition to ‘The Soul of Man under Socialism,’ published that February in the Fortnightly Review, Wilde released four books, wrote Lady Windermere’s Fan and penned the bulk of Salome. ‘The Soul of Man’ is now read, when it is read at all, through the prism of ‘Oscar Wilde’—gay martyr, canonical playwright and official member of the Irish literary pantheon. A certain effort is required to recall the circumstances of its appearance. But by revisiting the intellectual and cultural world in which it first arrived, we can come to see it—and, perhaps, its author—afresh.

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Parliament: the mother of all deceptions By William Bowles

30 June 2012

wm-morris“There — it sickens one to have to wade through this grimy sea of opportunism. What a spectacle of shuffling, lies, vacillation and imbecility does this Game Political offer to us? I cannot conclude without an earnest appeal to those Socialists, of whatever section, who may be drawn towards the vortex of Parliamentarism, to think better of it while there is yet time.

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Occupy The World! To the barricades comrades? By William Bowles

19 October 2011 — Strategic Culture Foundation

Four years ago in a Ministry of Defence Review, the Whitehall Mandarins, more astutely than any so-called Lefty, determined the following:

“The Middle Class Proletariat — The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states. The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite. Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.” — ‘UK Ministry of Defence report, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036’ (Third Edition) p.96, March 2007

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Capitalism cut adrift – Part 2: Looking Sideways By William Bowles

13 March, 2010 — Strategic Culture Foundation

‘Self-sufficiency, do-it-yourself, ‘green’ technologies, raising vegetables, crafts, ‘heritage’ projects , history, archeology, geneology, all manner of ‘community’ projects like cleaning up neighbourhoods or restoring poisoned rivers, the list is constantly expanding in what can only be described as a headlong flight from the shopping mall to the allotment and hence from corporate ‘culture’ in all its vileness and mediocrity. I kid you not, our ‘winter of discontent’ has been transformed into a ‘reality show’.’

That’s how I ended Part 1 but this is by no means the first time that capitalism has caused such revulsion as the inexorable march of accumulation destroyed traditional communities across this ‘green and pleasant land’. In fact we now live in at least the third version of capitalism to blight this England.

The first occurred around 1750 with the arrival of factory system, the second with the Enclosures Act in 1832 that saw the forcible removal of millions of workers from country to city and the third, the enforced deindustrialization that began in the Thatcher years. The fundamental effect of these transformations was to break the links with the past. What remains is a hollowed out ‘heritage’ version of our history, aka Walt Disney’s theme parks.

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An Epoch of Rest By William Bowles

17 September 2009

“It is right and necessary that all men should have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to do; and which shall be done under such conditions as would make it neither overwearisome nor over-anxious.” — William Morris, ‘Art and Socialism’.

news-from-nowhere-213x300William Morris’s News from Nowhere, his future history of a ‘return’ to an idealized vision of a pre-capitalist society, part feudal, part agrarian socialism, I read when I was a teenager, and perhaps oddly, I also read it as a science fiction story.

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My Dad, me and Nature By William Bowles

5 February 2009

woodcraft.jpg

The badge of the Woodcraft Folk

Unlike most of the kids I grew up with, my folks introduced me to Nature at a very early age and they introduced it to me in very specific ways, especially my father, Roy. Not just trips to the country at weekends, weather permitting, but a view of Nature as all-encompassing including us humans.

roy-microscope.jpg

My dad, building microscopes at Baker’s Microscopes

Roy was a self-taught man who had left school at perhaps fourteen or fifteen and like others of his class, time and politics, he felt a deep sense of inferiority when it came to knowledge. Thus he did everything he could to educate himself in all kinds of subjects especially the English language, science, history and of course politics and surprisingly for those days, Nature.

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