Varn Vlog

Rethinking Environmental Narratives: The Untold Successes and Challenges of Socialist Regimes with Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro

February 15, 2024 C. Derick Varn Season 1 Episode 242
Rethinking Environmental Narratives: The Untold Successes and Challenges of Socialist Regimes with Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro
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Varn Vlog
Rethinking Environmental Narratives: The Untold Successes and Challenges of Socialist Regimes with Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro
Feb 15, 2024 Season 1 Episode 242
C. Derick Varn

Prepare to have your views on environmental management within socialist regimes challenged as Dr. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, a seasoned geography professor and respected author, joins us to dismantle long-held myths and scrutinize Western misconceptions. Our conversation with Dr. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro navigates the intricate landscape of environmental policies, contrasting the exaggerated narratives of ecological disasters in the USSR and PRC with the success stories often overshadowed by bias. As we unpack the complexities of environmental sustainability across varying political systems, we uncover surprising revelations about socialist countries' achievements in atmospheric emissions and biodiversity conservation.

Dr. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro brings a fresh perspective to the table, delving into the rich tapestry of early Soviet conservation efforts and the contemporary struggles of nations like China and Cuba as they juggle industrial progress with ecological preservation. We explore the vital role of global manufacturing and consumption patterns in gauging a nation's true environmental footprint, and the ethical quandaries of 'sacrifice zones' in the pursuit of social progress. This episode peels back the layers of political, economic, and environmental integration, urging a reevaluation of the critiques commonly leveled against socialist nations.

The dialogue evolves, highlighting strategies and challenges that socialist movements face globally, from creating durable goods to navigating the choppy waters of political power in the United States. Dr. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro addresses the critical importance of reducing waste production and the potential of redirecting military funds toward environmental causes, with an eye towards crafting a sustainable future. We close with an insightful discussion on the interplay between socialism, healthcare, and urban agriculture, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach to fostering a just and sustainable society. Join us for a thought-provoking journey that promises to reshape your understanding of socialism's environmental narrative.

Support the Show.


Crew:
Host: C. Derick Varn
Intro and Outro Music by Bitter Lake.
Intro Video Design: Jason Myles
Art Design: Corn and C. Derick Varn

Links and Social Media:
twitter: @varnvlog
blue sky: @varnvlog.bsky.social
You can find the additional streams on Youtube

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Prepare to have your views on environmental management within socialist regimes challenged as Dr. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, a seasoned geography professor and respected author, joins us to dismantle long-held myths and scrutinize Western misconceptions. Our conversation with Dr. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro navigates the intricate landscape of environmental policies, contrasting the exaggerated narratives of ecological disasters in the USSR and PRC with the success stories often overshadowed by bias. As we unpack the complexities of environmental sustainability across varying political systems, we uncover surprising revelations about socialist countries' achievements in atmospheric emissions and biodiversity conservation.

Dr. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro brings a fresh perspective to the table, delving into the rich tapestry of early Soviet conservation efforts and the contemporary struggles of nations like China and Cuba as they juggle industrial progress with ecological preservation. We explore the vital role of global manufacturing and consumption patterns in gauging a nation's true environmental footprint, and the ethical quandaries of 'sacrifice zones' in the pursuit of social progress. This episode peels back the layers of political, economic, and environmental integration, urging a reevaluation of the critiques commonly leveled against socialist nations.

The dialogue evolves, highlighting strategies and challenges that socialist movements face globally, from creating durable goods to navigating the choppy waters of political power in the United States. Dr. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro addresses the critical importance of reducing waste production and the potential of redirecting military funds toward environmental causes, with an eye towards crafting a sustainable future. We close with an insightful discussion on the interplay between socialism, healthcare, and urban agriculture, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach to fostering a just and sustainable society. Join us for a thought-provoking journey that promises to reshape your understanding of socialism's environmental narrative.

Support the Show.


Crew:
Host: C. Derick Varn
Intro and Outro Music by Bitter Lake.
Intro Video Design: Jason Myles
Art Design: Corn and C. Derick Varn

Links and Social Media:
twitter: @varnvlog
blue sky: @varnvlog.bsky.social
You can find the additional streams on Youtube

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to VARMVlog. And today I'm with Dr Ingle De Morro, associate Professor of Geography at SUNY and author of a bunch of books actually. But the one that we're going to talk about is Social Estates and the Environment Lessons for Ecosocialists. And I like your book because it was a corrective to a lot of myths, some of which I think are based in anti-communism, some of which I think are actually innocent but do have to kind of be disentangled. So I'm going to let you kind of state the problematic yourself.

Speaker 1:

How do you think the end of the 20th century actually handled the way we understood the USSR and the PRC in regards to environmental failures? I remember being told, for example, that yellow dust when I lived in the Republic of Korea was caused by socialist mismanagement of resources along the Gobi Desert. Turns out that's not entirely true. A lot of it's just smog. But how did these myths come about? Which one of these kind of environmental catastrophes aren't myths? And how did the social estates maybe mitigate them? As a way to kind of get into the problem here.

Speaker 2:

Right. Thank you for inviting me and also even considering reading the book. I'm just hoping that it's helpful to clarify exactly those kinds of matters. There are bases in actually occurring environmental destructive processes, certainly in socialist countries. Some of them have been exaggerated. There are some complexities to how the assessments have been made and have changed over time, but by the 1990s, when records were being opened more widely and I choose that word as a comparative because it's not really been the case as it's made out to be the environmental records or that environmental impacts were hidden from view from the wider public in socialist countries, as it's made to be believed and this I had to find out by doing a bit of research on how things were reported during the 50s, 60s and 70s there are, just like in liberal democracy, certain bits of information that the public is not allowed to even come close to, and I think that by now I have come to the conclusion that it's much worse under liberal democracy than it is in socialist countries. Ironically because, for example, if you're talking about fracking, good luck getting any information, and if you're talking about most things that are under private control, that you have no access to them unless you have someone inside. So there's a lot of mythology about that and I think the 1990s were sort of I guess it depends on where one was in the 1990s in terms of the appraisals A lot was made, a lot of sensationalization was made out of a World Bank report.

Speaker 2:

Then they sort of gave the impression that the USSR was such an environmental catastrophe that one might have wondered how is it possible that people are even living in the USSR. It was such incredible sensationalization, but it wasn't the first time. It was already being made in the, of course, after the Chernobyl accident, which certainly occurred. Obviously it was horrific, but in comparison to what was the context, that has been what has been missing in, not always, but has been a minority sort of perspective in terms of understanding what happened with such disasters. But the problem is that in the 1990s especially, it was there was everything being reduced to one or two kinds of horrific bouts of environmental destruction, chernobyl being one example, the IRLC being another, and then taking those and reducing all of socialism to those effects, those couple of extreme forms of impacts. And now what is really curious is that the same was not done for the United States, which has thousands of superfund sites, which is really? We have one disaster zone after another. I used to live in New Jersey. Every square kilometer was a disaster zone, still is, and people are still living there. But there are loads of people with ailments as well. Who knows where they're coming from? But no one is making claims that the United States is like the worst ever perpetrator of environmental destruction in the universe.

Speaker 2:

So that's one thing that was happening in the 90s and of course this is extended to the People's Republic of China. It's extended to any well remaining socialist country. Curiously enough, vietnam doesn't get as much publicity about this, but the People's Republic of China of course has. And the thing is that in the PRC at first there were clumsy attempts to say, no, well, maybe it's not as bad as you think it is, but it was. But there were also self-serving kinds of exaggerations being made in North America, in Western Europe, about China that have not really panned out when you get to look into the details. And in fact some of the people who were involved in analyzing the situation of, say, soil erosion sort of had to admit that no, actually we don't have communist soil erosion. There was actually, how things were being phrased, like communist soil erosion. So I'm sorry, but I think that the environment is a little wider than you know. It's just the politics of a fraction of humanity, of just one species. You know, that's how things have been treated, and I have to say that the left, particularly in the West, has actively participated in mythology or exaggerations or, I think, for the most part in an ingenuous way.

Speaker 2:

Most of the times, you have people who are on the left, including Marxists, who have no clue about how ecosystems work. They really have not studied environmental science and it shows, and so they'll take these reports as if they were genuine and as if they were not themselves informed. These reports on the environment were not informed by bourgeois biases, which they are oftentimes, and I've actually found some incredible examples of the data being given which actually disproves the conclusions in scientific publications, and I thought, come on, we've got to do better than that. At least cook the data. But you know they didn't even do that. In some, like, for example, with deforestation, the USSR was claimed that it was increasing over time. In fact, the exact opposite was going on over decades. So when you have reports like that, and made not by environmental scientists, not by ecologists, but by people who are maybe agronomists, economists, you know that's a lot of what the reports were coming out of were being made by people who were actually not expert in those fields and again, I suppose, like people who would not be able to know one way or another would be.

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean, it includes me as well, because I was beginning postgraduate in the 90s and that was the running theme. You know it's like oh, the USSR is much, much worse than anything that you know, than even the worst impacts that have happened in the West, and there have been many, because I mean, where I grew up in Italy, we had SaveZoo, which has a hallmark in terms of like, in terms of international environmental policy with respect to the well, there are several kind of policies that came out of that, but it was a huge dioxin release. It was in 1976. So I was a kid and I was not too far away from that place and so like to be told, you know, that the USSR was much worse and stuff like that. You know, at some point, you know it's sort of I believe that for a long time, because I simply did not look up the data. But then, at the same time, you know, because of that background, and there was also the Veyant disaster in Northeast Italy.

Speaker 2:

There were a whole bunch of disasters that I was witnessing in the United States when I was living, you know, the first, my first years in the United States. It was kind of noticeable. So there was always that kind of contrast, this juncture between what I was told and the reality that I was living through or like that I was hearing about. But yeah, so the assessments were often very ideologically based and not really based on evidence.

Speaker 2:

Then I had the good fortune of going to Hungary and lived there in the early 1990s and so, like this story that you know, socialism leads to environmentalists. Well, I didn't think that I was living in an environmental disaster where I was living in Hungary. In fact, because I'm rather very different from New Jersey, because I was living in, I was going back to New Jersey, they're going to Hungary. It's like I think New Jersey is going to worse off environmentally speaking than Hungary does, and it's kind of. So there were these contrasts as well that I wasn't understanding what I was missing. So for a long time I just was sitting on these data, because I was also studying soils, by the way. That's kind of my background. I was studying soil degradation in Hungary and I was noticing that there were a lot of things that were just not measuring up to the claims. I'm sorry, I'm going very long and I'm hoping to have answered at least some of what you were asking.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you did, and actually I want to bring an example from your book to kind of like focus in on the impossibility of comparisons but also like the dishonesty of a little of the comparisons. So, for example, in your book you talk about the Kola Peninsula and deforestation tactics, but then you mentioned that, really this while you can't excuse Stalin for maintaining some of the Tsarist deforestation, you have to admit that it has a long history and it was just maintained. It was not newly introduced. But then you immediately point out the development of the cotton belt.

Speaker 1:

Now I grew up in Georgia in the southeastern United States is where I was born and I remember learning as an adult that the landscape that I actually thought was native to where I grew up was entirely kind of implanted there in the 1920s and 30s and also really poorly, with massive invasive species not considered, all kinds of soil effects not considered. You can't just put in pines to replace ancient oak trees, you can't. All that was strip forested for plantation land for the cotton belt, and the ecological devastation in the southeast is never spoken about that way. It's kind of thinly papered over by like transplant plants and stuff like that, but it really profoundly altered the landscape of the region and I only realized this even though I grew up there as an adult, so it's you know.

Speaker 1:

so when I hit that part in your book, I was like, oh, I've seen this, like you know not not even dealing with the fact that, like the Augusta River plant, which is a super fun site right is there, there's all kinds of issues about increased cancer rates in the areas around that site that they've never proven was tied to the storage of nuclear waste. They and.

Speaker 1:

I don't know even how you would exactly, but there is an increased incidence there and that in that area is, historically speaking, textile mills, which is poor white workers and a lot of very poor black workers, and today that area is pretty much just black. The white workers have largely left. So it's you can you can see that I've never heard that really talked about when you talk about ecological devastation, but the same kinds of things are talked about in Russia. Now, right, doesn't make what happened in Russia right, but it's hard to also blame it on socialism when it was just continuing things that were already happening.

Speaker 2:

Right, Like yeah, the RLC is a good example actually, because there was, yeah, the. The negative impact was certainly preceded, it was already happening. The direction of water for crops that shouldn't be grown in arid lands was already happening in the late 1800s. So you know, there's also a climatological change as well. Matters are rather much more complex oftentimes. One thing that I perhaps might be worthwhile to posit here is that there seems to be a tendency to equate environmental impact with social system and things that are not that simple.

Speaker 2:

Under Stalin, actually, there was a massive the Shelter Belt Programme and it's actually lasted, for really outlived that administration by a long shot, and it was very positive in terms of what it did in terms of reducing soil erosion and having greater biodiversity than otherwise would have been the case. But if one says that, then one well, he's being a Stalinist or something like that. It's just. No, I'm sorry, but ecological processes are much wider than social ones, and what may last for decades to centuries might outlast the kinds of social systems that existed, that impacted the landscape previously. So this is kind of it's a fast-forward kind of equation that I often see and that, like democracy, will somehow magically bring better, healthier environments. But I'm sorry, that's not how things will work out most often than not. For example, if we were to have actual democracy in the United States, don't we wish we're not gonna get rid of the lead problem in soils. That's gonna last for centuries. And so this kind of strange linkage being made is maybe what's also behind the kinds of for me strange reasoning that occurs in terms of environmental impact. So what that does is that it's not so easy to just pinpoint the blame on one or another system, and this is also to come back to what you were pointing out. So, like the difficulty of making comparisons, this is that as well, because I mean, what are we comparing and how are we going to control for the many interconnections that are out there between societies, within societies and as well within different parts of societies, different parts of other species, because they evolve and they don't necessarily evolve in unison or in a homogeneous manner.

Speaker 2:

I hope not be complicating things too much, but I mean, if we're looking at prairie systems and we're looking at the impacts on groundwater supplies from, let's say, like the past 100 years, it's going to impact what's gonna happen in the next maybe 100 years as well, and then add to that bubble, climate change, and then you have an additional spin to that and you might not have a replenishment of the water supplies, not because of any local impacts, but because of global climate change or regional climate changes that have very little to do with the local impacts. So one has to take into consideration multiple scales of analysis and interconnections and that's actually one of the major flaws that I was finding in a lot of the analyses about the environmental impacts in socialist countries. And again, it's not to say that they're impeccable records, but in fact what I found to my astonishment, I have to also add is that yeah, the record was not great, but it actually ends up in several with several kinds of impacts, especially in terms of atmospheric impacts like carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, and with soil erosion and biodiversity, that actually socialist countries have a better record than the most powerful, wealthiest so-called democracies. And that was actually, I found that well, not exactly astonishing, but certainly unexpected. But precisely because it was built up over the decades where I grew up and also within the kinds of left movements or organizations where I'd been in, there was this kind of running theme that you know, we have a huge ecological crisis and, yes, we want to have socialism, but not the USSR form of socialism, because that's even worse and in fact it's better. That's actually the thing. It's not a great, it's got a lot of problems, but if you look at it in comparison to the United States, canada, whatever else, actually it's a better record overall. Overall doesn't mean that we don't have problems, doesn't mean that you don't have disasters. It just means that, well, if you want to at least reduce the destructiveness of a system, we might want to follow and learn from and build on what socialist states were able to achieve, because it's not like they didn't care, it's not like they didn't have.

Speaker 2:

Like people who were involved in putting a check on industrial production, on mining and things like that, there were always frictions within and between economic departments. You can see this also within the People's Republic of China, where everyone looks carefully at not not of the social science studies, because there are limits to. You can't really apply social theory to the environment. It just doesn't work very well. So you have to look at the environmental data, wherever you can get your hands on it, to really get a better grasp and then always link it up at multiple scales.

Speaker 2:

Well, okay, so in China. They're producing stuff and it's creating smog. But why are they producing that stuff there? Is it just because they just want to make profits? And then you find out well, no, actually part of that is because they become the manufacturer for the rest of the world. So it would be like, I don't know, blaming Brazil for deforestation without looking at where the timber goes. That's not very useful If one really is interested in trying to resolve environmental impacts. It's not very useful to just focus on countries as if they were isolated units anyway.

Speaker 1:

Well, one of the arguments I think your book pretty convincingly makes is both European and post-European settler societies tend to outsource their environmental degradation. I mean, that was kind of made explicit in the last three years with the green milestones being met by Russian gas production. But in Europe but in the US it's also explicit in some ways internally, because it's very liberals talk about this as environmental justice, but it is very much like classed and racialized where these super fun sites are, how people get stuck near them, the neighborhoods that they affect. What I found interesting about your book that I didn't really know, because I pretty much knew ecosocialism from the John Bellamy Foster narrative, of which there was this new left ecosocialism in the West that was completely disconnected from the USSR and also totally critical of battle Promethean Marx. Then there was the metabolic rift people and then there's the post-metabolic rift people. That's kind of the narrative and which is not to say that John Bellamy Foster, like, has a problem with what actually happens in socialist states.

Speaker 1:

I think he's become more outspoken defending elements of what China does, but it does kind of shut out this entire development in the USSR and the PRC and I did not know, for example, that there was a conservation element to the pro-cult movement. I didn't know that even during the height of a civil war, the Red Terror and everything out in 1919, there was actually an environmental conservation movement, starting with water and moving out from there almost contemporaneously to the US's conservation movement. But the US's conservation movement was mostly, if we're Frank, aesthetic. It was not, you know.

Speaker 2:

Just a good point, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So it's like realizing that, reading your book, I just wanted to go in. What did you learn about, like, say, soviet and PRC environmental policy, even early on, like you know?

Speaker 2:

That I have to thank some people I got to know over the years. One of them is Aaron Gare in Australia and he did some nice work on exactly on the early Bolshevik conservationism Although I depart from him now, I guess or eventually I have because I was looking at the evidence after Lenin's leadership and it did not pan out that it was as Aaron had put it, that there was a road not taken. In fact they continued to take the road and it faltered. It went in different directions, but one can't say that it ended with the purges, which was also what John Bonamie Foster thought at first. And then he also went and did some more digging up and he also discovered that it wasn't that simple.

Speaker 2:

And I also have to thank someone who is certainly a very, very much an apologist for liberalism and that is Douglas Weiner, who is a wonderful historian, very meticulous, and it's thanks to him also that a lot of this stuff has become more widely known to people who are not versed with the archives from the USSR and are not read in the Russian. So now there are many sources I guess to rank from and I was reading, and the more I was reading it's like oh okay, even like the older folks in the 1970s, like Marshall and Goldman, there were treasure trove in terms of their studies on environmental impact in the USSR that actually went exactly against what then becomes in vogue in the 1990s. They were showing exactly the opposite of what was being claimed by the 1990s. So there was this contrast as well that I was drawing from With the peoples Republic of China. It's a little bit more difficult for me because my Chinese is just virtually nonexistent, so it's really difficult to get to the data, and some of those are not disclosed to the public as well, like at least for in public, and I think for good reason. Frankly, because there's one thing that I suppose I should add is that we're dealing with countries that are constantly under siege from without, and then they have contradictions within. So in that kind of situation it might be asking a bit much to say oh, I'm coming from Italy or from the United States, open up the vaults for me so I can give you a bad reputation. It's like well, screw off. It should be the answer, obviously, but nevertheless there are plenty of studies that have happened that examined the situation from the 30s onwards and that show rather much more constructive relations to the rest of nature than it has been made out to be, and also intellectual currents, that part of them were marginalized, but part of them were not entirely marginalized and actually were aided and abetted by more regional powers within the USSR. You had patronage from, maybe, commissars in different republics. So these things complicate the story quite a bit and of course you have different kinds of outcomes.

Speaker 2:

Let's see, one thing that I wanted to also make sure to bring up is that, unfortunately, the attention with respect to environmentalist, of socialist countries is kind of reduced to the USSR and Eastern Europe for the most part, and then people forget about Mongolia, forget about Laos, vietnam, north Korea, cuba. I mean there are quite a few socialist countries, or now they're no longer socialist countries, but they do have environmental records, you know, and we might want to look at those as well. It's kind of a shame. So I've been trying I mean in that book I was just beginning to do it I've been trying to actually look at the situation and how it developed in Mongolia and it's looking like something similar is a foot in terms of exaggerations being made and actually the environmental record certainly not being spotless but certainly being much better than it is now, especially since the 1990s, it really has become Mongolia has been turned into basically a gigantic mining concern. It's really, it's really sad, and you know people who are trying to fight against it are being put in jail and this is under democracy, apparently. So you know it's like OK, so under under this so-called terrible, you know, dictatorial regime, you've got actually a better track record for the environment and, of course, also has a track record in terms of people's standards of living, which is the other part of the story that maybe, maybe we'll have a chance to talk about as well, because but actually I wanted to return to that, if that's OK, because what you mentioned is such an important point you made, is so important with respect to the outsourcing, basically the, the new colonialism required to have lavish lifestyles, at least for a minority in in the so-called democracies, right?

Speaker 2:

So you know the USSR I guess I'll get into trouble, but it was not exactly colonial power. You didn't have, like, the USSR being present. You know, in Africa like extracting resources like Britain or France. You don't have China doing that either, really, although people might want to claim that, but if you look at the record so far, there's not not much showing there are some problems here and there, but I mean, if you compare to what I compare to the imperialist systems that still are in the European Union, whatever else, they're really riding on other people's environments. And of course, in North America, as we well know, canada, australia as well, new Zealand, the US they're built on on on extracting resources, taking away resources, but also ransacking environments that were lived in by Native American peoples. So you know that's if that's not colonialism in the USSR. On the other hand, for better or worse, you know there are problems with some policies as well, and some of them were disastrous, absolutely. So I don't want to belittle that. Do you have cases of millions of deaths? But then again you also have cases of millions of deaths in other countries and we don't stick it to.

Speaker 2:

You know socialism you have. You have the problem of trying to improve people's standards of living while being under constant military threat, sanctions, economic sabotage from within and without, and also not having colonies to exploit, to to get the resources, kind of like. You know, like the Netherlands effect, you know, like where you have nice and nice greenery and all that sort of stuff, and its basis is basically destruction of Indonesia and you know, and Suriname or whatever else, right, and, but the Netherlands look really good, don't they? You don't have that option in socialist countries, because they don't go out and ransack the rest of the world in order to, you know, put up their infrastructure and increase people's standards of living with with that, even though it's not even necessarily what they're trying to do, which is really just profit making. But anyway, sorry, I've went a little bit too long.

Speaker 1:

No, I mean, I think one of the one of the things you have to do, particularly with the US, is just the, the nested layers of colonialism.

Speaker 2:

Like yes.

Speaker 1:

Like one of the things that made me more sympathetic to World Systems Theory, which I saw you used in the past, because for some of your analysis, but particularly Wallerstein's, is also looking at the Wallerstein like. You imply that to the core and periphery to the world, but you also have to imply it with within the US itself so you can see the way like parts of the black belt in the industrial Midwest are the way they are. You can see how it affects racialized communities, also poor white communities. You can see how it. You can also see how it leads to weird backlash and petty qualification and all kinds of things. Once you do that and and no one ever does that, I mean like no one ever makes it like to.

Speaker 1:

When I said no one ever does that, people don't look at like, for example, flows of goods within, say, the Warsaw Pact are like when talking about imperialism in the USSR. They don't look at, for example and this is not to defend or condemn what the Soviets did in Afghanistan actually but but but like that was not. If you know the stats, you know that it was not a purely extractive engagement. Yeah, just not to say the Soviets never engaged in instructive engagements with certain. You know communities, but you know I tend to. I don't think they did a great job in Azure by john, but in general you just see so much less of it, whereas, like in the West, you have two problems. You have one problem with the colonial, neocolonial consumption, and both internal and external. But but I think you also have the fact that we have no profit incentive to ever build anything that is going to last, because dead labor is a is a profitability problem.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a good way of putting it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So you know one thing.

Speaker 1:

You know I was talking to someone about growth or degrowth and I was like I don't love this entire framework because when, if we're building stuff to last, so that, so that, like, prior investment is not a liability to future profitability, the entire arrangement looks different.

Speaker 1:

Like you're not concerned about GDP growth which is dependent on basically manufacturing stuff, even when you don't need it, like um, and in so much that you see social estate to do that, it is kind of them necessarily trying to integrate with the global community to get good that they're otherwise shut out of, like um. And you know I'm not saying you know that that's always the best thing to do, but I also don't know what the options are. I mean, if you look at, you know, if you look at what China was looking at and say 1976, I can be pretty pissed off about the sign of Soviet split. But I can't really, but I can't really be mad about them having to to develop some kind of industrial productive base and try to use that as a way to get over the quote middle income trap without going and scourging at the countries for it, exactly.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And so it's. It just seems like you're compelling apples to like compquats. It's not, it's not even like they're both fruit kind of, but that's all you're really sharing, like.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the, the intentions are the sources of legitimacy for, for the systems are really entirely different, and that should not be lost, should not be underestimated either. I mean, if you have a revolution and it's a social revolution and you're going to keep it socialist, you've got to at least show the goods, or else you know you're going to get ousted with another revolution, or counter revolution, I should suspect. I mean it takes it takes a lot, of, a lot of trouble and a lot of resources, especially in a country that does not have the luxury of ransacking the rest of the world to run, you know, an army and to build weapons, you know, to keep a population down. So it's just, I mean, one of the things that I find interesting sometimes as well, as people sort of on the one hand it could be the same people sometimes as well so say, oh yeah, well, the USSR was, was just an economic disaster, stuff like that, and it was an environmental disaster, and and then you look at the data and and so what? The one hand they're complaining about GDP being too low, and then, on the other hand, they're also complaining about environmental disasters, like well, sorry mate, but the two things are related. So you know, maybe you can think about how efficient the GDP was relative to environmental, you know, impact. But even though it's kind of strange that people would, on the same time, you know, talk about both ends of their mouths as it were, and you know I mean, oh look, is a growth problem with socialist countries and on the other hand, oh look, they're environmentally devastating, you know they could.

Speaker 2:

To go back to the growth and degrowth stuff, I'm sympathetic to the degrowth is, I have to say, even though I've critiqued them harshly as well, in particular one person but who probably wants to kill me. But yeah, well, but yeah, I'm sorry. I mean I should have written stuff in a much more diplomatic way, but it would have been the same, I think it'd be it, but it's. It's just that it has to be put in context. You know, just like you were saying, you need to grow the infrastructure in order to have the ability to to have people who can be fed, clothes and housed. There are some destructive aspects to it.

Speaker 2:

Now, one debate that I guess I've entered into and it's not resolvable or resolved by any means, that I have no idea how they could be resolvable is that, in order to achieve socialism. Let's say like, let me just put it another way In order to have the working classes have a standard of living that is not, you know, like much of the world, let's say you know, which basically have not reliable running water and not portable electricity supplies and reliable if you have any, you know you want to get people to have the sort of living with a minority of the class right now. Enjoy it, and it's in with quotes enjoys because it's always contingent and we know that there are a couple of million people go hungry every day in the United States, for example. But let's say you want to have the majority of people finally not be poor and having a better life in terms of material conditions, and you know where the material is going to come from, right, so how are we going to achieve that? And you know how is it, how is it possible to be, in some respects, destroying at least part of the environment to do that, and it could be temporary. And then then the question would be okay, which, which places are going to be destroyed and who's going to be benefiting and how and what? Sure that everybody benefits from this destructive aspect? That will be amused. For it to be temporary. It's not an easy set of questions to resolve and I've yet to see, you know, people who talk growth or degrowth, or eco socialists as well like come up with, okay, some sort of strategy economic, political, you know, and environmental or once that would take care of getting the majority of people to not suffer, to live you know long enough, you know, at least you know the competitive now much longer and in better health, and achieve that without having any environmental impact.

Speaker 2:

I think it's impossible, frankly, and so I'm getting it also sometimes a perplexed about people talk about sacrifice zones without, as a general thing, without putting into context.

Speaker 2:

It's like I mean I mean the right sacrifice zones, just to fixate on the sacrifice zone aspect without looking at what the solutions could be and why are those sacrifice zones wrong. We have other sacrifice zones that have been made, but actually the people who are writing about sacrifice zones are enjoying the benefits of those sacrifice zones, and so it's kind of strange. You know it gets a little contorted, contradictory and maybe unconsolable to speak about, but I mean I do environmental science work and it's kind of in my face all the time, and so I think that it probably be worthwhile to have at least an open dialogue about it, without fixations, without purism. That's it, that's what I want to really say, without this kind of purism in which, oh, we're going to achieve socialism and a squeaky clean environment at the same time. Well, having to parry, you know, nuclear armed foes, I was just what university for on would be the question, if one you know sort of thinks that that's easily resolvable.

Speaker 1:

Anyway, I think one of the questions that emerges to me when I think about growth and degrowth one of the points that degree grovers make that I kind of agree with is we do have to radically address, and we think, uneven development and we cannot just say, like you know, there will be no trade offs for the developed world. You know, if we believe in basic Marxist principles like abolition of town and country, you know not that we can do that immediately, no one thinks that. But like we also have to admit that that means radically and rethinking our relationship to the priorly developing in quotation marks world, or the underdeveloped world, or the over exploited world. I think all those could possibly be simultaneously true, and and that will involve trade offs. I do think we.

Speaker 1:

I do think in some ways that puts an onus on leftist in the developed world to both develop an actual policy for this that does not totally make their politics unviable domestically, but but does attempt to admit that like we might all get good things, we might not all get bananas, you know, like, and and that may actually involve sometimes globalizing food chains, sometimes it'll involve relocalizing them, but the more of the world that has input into that, I think the better the decisions are going to be. Right now, it's not even that all the developed world gets to say in, that it's basically our elite classes that get to say in that really like yeah, like when we talk about like Socialist effects on environmental policies, like socialist effects on geopolitics, it's like okay, I'm in the DSA, I can write my electeds, I guess, and if they don't just blacklist me immediately, I.

Speaker 1:

Might have some Downstream effects, but I have to be honest about the promises. Okay, one of the things I get very frustrated with Kind of current views of American socialism, for example, is not admitting that there's a reason why you can't get social Democrats to vote against the military dollar to give it to Even the way I phrase up, trace my bias, but to give it to Like internal development of like programs, like schools, well, if equalization programs with this event. The reason why that can't happen is also, if you do that, the dollar is a lot less valuable global. Yeah, there's just no way around that. And so you know, modern monetary theory is true, but it's true in the back of something very Nasty.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, put exactly, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So Same to with the environment and so like we do kind of have to be honest about that and not say that we can Sugar, rock, candy, mountain everything. Nor should we, I don't know, do what I think was some of the response To this stuff in the 1990s amongst certain kinds of leftist. I don't think these people are as popular now as they were when I was 20, but which was you?

Speaker 2:

thinking about.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I'm thinking about primitivist and people, oh, and people who just go.

Speaker 1:

We have to let 99% of the population die off, which in I always point out that, yeah, you say that when you live in, like the Pacific Northwest, where you can foreseeably, like I don't know, pretend to be a hunter-gatherer but, like nobody else can do that, like it's not a viable, it's not a viable survival mechanism, which you've already admitted. And then you also ignore the fact that that's gonna play out and very racialized in class I ways, and which, quite frankly, if you think this through, you're not likely to be the person to survive. The capitalist is so like I Don't know what. How do you think this is gonna end now that politics is really easy to debunk, I think, but it seems like and most people know that in its most extreme 1990s primitivist forum, but I think it does. I Think, actually and this is part of the problems with the, with the growth, degrowth, bright green, versus whatever debates Is there's a tendency to link elements of degrowth to that Kind of tradition and, frankly, there are some degrovers who are that.

Speaker 1:

Um, uh yes, yeah, um, that's one of the other things I don't like about the degrowth is I'm like, well, there's, I can think of at least five different things that that actually is, and they're not in agreement with one another. Yeah like cohe seito and a half earth.

Speaker 1:

socialism yeah and Toi deteza yeah yeah, they're not saying the same things. Yeah, but I do think we are gonna have to admit that we're not going to be able to To sustain even a declining world population, which you know, I think is going to, I think is thanks to urbanization and some other things is going to decline naturally.

Speaker 2:

Um.

Speaker 1:

Without mass death, although it looks like mass death may be on the horizon anyway. Oh no, but um, I'm knocking on wood, but lately I haven't felt good about it. Um, it's um, but I think there's been. I think one thing your book is also good corrective to is this kind of Super bright, green, let's say luxury space communism, to use the bad you know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I can see you already like heart, because your heart pounding. I'm sorry, but um that just doesn't think that socialists are gonna have to make tradeoffs?

Speaker 1:

is we just, I guess, develop the productive forces enough? But I don't know how you do that without making tradeoffs. Um, and I also think we could develop the productive forces more responsibly. Um, definitely, but you still have to extract energy from the planet like there's. There's no real way around that. Um so, and right now, the one thing I can tell you Is that, while there is a A capitalist green transition kind of sorter on the way not really um it it? It seems like that is also being used as a way To further neoliberalize, our post neoliberalize. Even at this point, I'm not even sure we're dealing with you anymore.

Speaker 2:

Um, and I mean, that's somewhat seriously but no, I, I I've, I'm also sort of trying to understand, uh, where we're at and I'm I'm not sure why the Call it neoliberalism is. It's a different, it's more thing into a different kind of capitalism, but I'm not sure what it is right, yeah, and I, I, uh.

Speaker 1:

But whatever it is, it seems like there's a very sort of like Well, if you look at, for example, the inflation reduction act in the united states, which has this big green program in it, um, there is no attempt other than raising a federal contractor minimum wage to make the green energy industry Not shitty. And if people know working conditions in that industry, actually they do not compare to, like, say even uaw workers um Standards.

Speaker 1:

It's a very neoliberalized, uh, piecemeal, petty bourgeois industry um, and in some ways they are doing a good job at making sure that um, the environmental movement and the labor movement and the developed world even don't catch up and definitely don't look at what's going on in state socialist societies.

Speaker 2:

It's just not that that's got to be left off the table by yeah, I mean the, the, the town planning that used to exist in the ussr, for example. Quite a lot of it Will certainly reduce a lot of energy use. Um, some of it is still. You know it's standing in in russia and and it is is having. It does have a long term, relatively positive impact.

Speaker 2:

Um, the reduction of Of the production of rubbish, um, which was one of the hallmarks of a lot of socialist countries before the they were made to To become liberal democracies and uh, then he's got this spiral of, like, incredible amounts of unnecessary Packaging and all sorts of stuff. You know Um, things that are made that are obsolete the next day or the next year. You know they should be in lifelong Uh possessions to use in the kitchen, for example. You know so, so many, so many things could be done. You know, learn, learning from what was achieved Uh in those countries. Some of the achievements of what have to do with uh, with being under siege, um, like in kuba, making huge, incredible strides, but um, but it is also in some respects Shaped by the now what more than 60 year embargo, but nevertheless, I mean one of the things that kuba showed is that, um, I mean foot in our countries under an embargo like that. Well, uh, either the way it caved in and just become the, the latest um, us subordinated gangster show, which basically was kuba before the kuba revolution, or you know sort of uh, um, you know, take the neoliberal road when not, you know, and and sold the rest of society. But they hadn't done that thanks to having actual surists in power. So somebody spent in the us because it's pie in the sky, but why not? You know, if we Do, I don't know about like seizing the state or something like that, but we, if we, if we did have um, let me premise that if we had any socialist who need any sort of influence, or even near getting any social influence, it's an automatic assassination, uh, or series of assassination.

Speaker 2:

So we, we should face that fact, I think. I mean, it didn't take very much. You know, malcomect was Not not, no, nowhere near. Or you know, like you would be Newton, there were nowhere near like gaining any sort of power that really would have put into question the entire of the system that you know, and yet they were assassinated. You know, um, just so many people who who, uh, uh, they had even just A fraction of the power that the bidens and kennies of the world have, or the bushes, you know, they would have had an incredible positive impact on the rest of the world.

Speaker 2:

But you know, but I think that's what we have to deal with in the united states, and that's another thing that I think needs to be put on the table for discussion Is that, well, you can get your representatives in congress, but, you know, you can get some sort of palliative measures introduced, which is fine. I think it's well worthwhile, but the problem is that you have um, an entire, uh, a ruling class that really needs to be um, frankly, um, how do I put this? In a way that doesn't sound. They need to be put down, they need to be gut rid of. Uh, I mean not necessarily in terms of like being killed, it's just in terms of having them do something useful, like scrubbing toilets. You know, being cooks.

Speaker 2:

You know, they the uh.

Speaker 2:

But how do you achieve that?

Speaker 2:

You know, if, um, in a situation in which, um, even like uh, you have some sort of radicalization of the street that's calling for just even minor reforms, you get beaten up. You know it's kind of difficult. So, um, yeah, I mean, but at least you know we could draw from all these uh, very rich histories of um achievements, uh, that were made in all these socialist countries and continue to be made, and also learn from the mistakes and learn from things that didn't go so well. But in order to be able to get to that point sorry, no, go ahead, yeah, just in order against that point, you have to have political power to have a level of influence in in us Society that that enables those kinds of policies to be Not just put into place but to be permanently a feature of society, and that, um, that is something that is quite Much, much, much more difficult and and there needs to be much, much more organizing and coordination than at present we have in any leftist formation. But historically it's never really been there anyway.

Speaker 1:

So not in the us, I mean no one, unfortunate. Yeah, there was a brief moment um kind of in in like 1915 and then again and like 1939, um, but uh, unfortunately. Well, I won't go into how I think third period is was terrible for europe but actually good for the us, um, but uh, that's uh, that's a very unpopular position that I have. Um but um the the us gas is particularly difficult because even socialist strategies we understand it, going all the way back to the second international, is based on parliamentary system, um which we don't have.

Speaker 1:

Um, and yeah um, so, like, when we talk about popular fronts versus united fronts, I'm like I don't even know what that means in the us contact really like, like, uh, I don't love the popular front, the way the popular front works out in the us, but I also don't really know what other options we ever had, and I, um, and when I think about it, I think it's it's actually a harder road to hoe um the. The other thing that I was going to say, though, is like even the second international before the 1920s admitted that, if they got an electoral road to socialism, it was almost always going to lead to at least a minor civil war.

Speaker 1:

There was no way yes, you know around that they were hoping it was going to be minor, you know like that was the best you were going to get um, and you know, um, I remember Ingalls promising in that time, you know, in the 1880s, like, yeah, we realized this. We're just hoping. You know, we think it's the capitalists are a small group and we'll be able to contain them, uh, fairly quickly and then you won't need repressive apparatus is nearly, to that extent, very long. Um, unfortunately, um, uh, for a variety of reasons, including all these intermediary classes that keep getting in the way. Um, that's very complicated.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Um, it seems like that optimism has to be tempered somewhat. Um, and yet I I you know one of the things that I'm really big on right now, regardless of how you feel about the particularities of the current prc for the survival of the fucking planet, you need normalization of relations between the us and the prc to some degree.

Speaker 2:

There's no like that should be something every, so that's a lot ups.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, every socialist, regardless of even how you feel about the prc, has to just say like. We have to take a stance on normalization, at least to the best of our ability, um with With the people's republic of china, because without that um, I mean Uh, for both eco, socialist and for geo politics we're going to live in a multipolar world. Um, I don't think that inherently is good or bad, I just think it's an inevitability.

Speaker 1:

Yeah uh, so how that looks is going to largely depend on whether or not you can at least have datant between what are obviously going to be the great regional powers, and there will be no global hegemon anymore. The transatlantic super state Isn't powerful enough to do that. Um, you know, you know, nato can't rule the planet anymore. I think even nato knows that.

Speaker 2:

Um, I'm not sure though.

Speaker 1:

Well, you see, I actually, uh, my dark thought is, maybe they do know that and they're just willing to Fuck everything up all the way down.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's my fear as well. It's like, uh, we're just gonna go to another planet. Well, they don't have one, fortunately. So, uh, yeah at least that's the cup. Think that they can get away with a nuclear war?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean that there's. We still have mad Um which, sadly, the amount of human survival that is weirdly dependent on our ability to completely kill ourselves is Is kind of disheartening, because I do think that's the only reason why the capitalist world gloves are even kind of off. Um, I think we see a lot more than just proxy wars. If that was not the case, yeah, I think you're right.

Speaker 2:

But a minimum program in terms of foreign policy, of, of um, I think that's a, that's something worth fighting for. In the us Context you have, of course, in terms of internal dynamics I mean we're in a settler, colonial regime and uh, that that makes, makes it very, very tough. Um, I mean, when you have certain segments of the population are giving privileges maybe they're just crumbs, but still privileges relative to other and that makes it difficult to get coordinated across. You know, working class spectra, and that's a. You know, that's another big challenge. And there there was also something that in the ussr they were trying to overcome because all the nationalities conflicts, and it didn't exactly work out either, but they were Putting a lid on it so much more effectively. And here it said it's like they want to keep increasing the, the tensions, rather than the opposite.

Speaker 1:

It's like, oh, um, so like we're organizing the workplace, as you well know, it's uh, it makes for some challenges there as well, because, yeah, oh yeah, um, racially genderly, yeah, even like, even class habitously like, like organizing people who come from, even though we're all worker, well, we're all a certain kind of I'm a teacher, so I would say I am uh, uh, a non-productive labor aristocratic worker, uh, in the old sense of that term. Um, uh, I don't say that as a moral judgment or to say that we aren't part of the broader whatever, but we aren't, yeah, we don't produce surplus for capital, um, and that's not a moral judgment, it's a fact. And, um, we so our, our incentive structure is a little strange. Um, we also aren't so a labor aristocratic that say we make more than um, uh, our raises go higher than inflation, um, so we're kind of a weird bunch. But even in that, like Rural, urban divides I live in Utah Uh, rule, uh rule.

Speaker 1:

Unions are actually overrepresented in the state level. Union cancels, um, because of everything from the cost of joining the union in rural areas is cheaper to there's just more schools, um, yeah, I mean the overhead costs are different. Um, the I should be somewhat careful about this, but there there's there's not that much national or even state level incentive to deal with this, because the unions own a lot of buildings and so like they're not even that concerned about dues, there's there's all kinds of problems there. However, um, you know, the two things I think we have to look at and as a minimum program in the united states is a rebirth of a multi-class uh Worker's union, some kind of amelioration of historically wronged uh, um oppressed peoples, um, uh, within the context of recognizing yeah, how do I say this? I don't mean in the full jay-sakai way, right.

Speaker 2:

What?

Speaker 1:

yeah, yeah, I'm just so yeah, yeah, but I, you know, I do think we have to like deal with the contradictions and anyway, even I often think about, okay, what would a nation's policy likely in the US, and I'm like I don't even know how that works, but we do have to somehow deal with these real and earned lack of trust that's even built into stuff like the US wealth gap. Like the US wealth gap is totally explainable between races, basically by property ownership, like you can explain. You just like, how did 2007 to 2010 play out for one group versus the other? And it literally explains almost the entirety of the wealth gap. That's fixable. But until you do fix it, that's a real antagonism between people and totally changes their incentive structure, like you know.

Speaker 2:

And it will have quite a bit of environmental implications as well.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely Like. I remember before I was even a Marxist. I think this was around 2004. And this was when I noticed collateralized debt. I kind of got onto that pretty early and just going and seeing how people were turning pasture land and semi-renewed forest in, like the Southeast, into investment homes for nobody. Yes, yes, I've seen the photos. They're incredible.

Speaker 2:

I used to show that in my class, actually from Georgia when I used to teach in Wisconsin, I was like, wow, look at this like a sprawl and like, how do you explain this sprawl? It's obviously not for people to live in, so and it has a huge environmental impact. So I think it's a huge impact. So I think it's a huge impact, so, and it has a huge environmental impact. So how do we explain this? Obviously, it's not because of, like, population growth. There's something growing, but it's not people inhabiting those houses. So I mean, yeah, those phenomena yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, in Georgia and set for Atlanta and Savannah, you literally saw all the urban centers actually fall out of nothing, Like they just started to decay, They've lost population. You have the kind of you have the kind of stark choice of gentrification or dye Like, and a lot of places in the South, particularly in the black belt parts of the South where I'm from, or dye was actually the part that was selected. They weren't gentrified, they were just allowed to rot. And honestly, when frustration I have in socialist discourse, even in terms of the environment, actually is us not looking at the South was never completely industrialized anyway, but like the de-industrial South, the actual de-industrial Midwest, there's a reason, for example, that Black Lives Matter starts in St Louis and yes, it may end in Seattle or New York. That's a whole different problem, but like there's a reason why it starts in St Louis and that reason is political, economic and it also if you look at the environment in those areas, the environment shows it Like you can't separate these things out.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. Yeah, it's one of those occasions where there's quite a bit of overlap, Absolutely yeah, it's impossible for that not to happen. It seems, also because I mean, yeah, these economic processes, these racialized, caste and gender policies really are basically, as you know, the siting of the pollution centers or the rubbish heaps or whatever are very much a function of racialized community location. So, yeah, but in other situations elsewhere in the world it's not as clear a cut as you see it in the US, not to say that it doesn't exist, but here is particularly. Yeah, I mean, so that's why environmental justice is so important. I guess it's why it came out of the United States.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it is interesting to think about when we also talk about comparisons between the socialist world and the capitalist world. For years I taught abroad. I was basically a servant of the globalized petite bourgeoisie, unfortunately. Oh yeah, I agree.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you gotta do what you gotta do. It's also useful for understanding the classes actually.

Speaker 1:

And I think one thing I would critique American socialist for is they actually don't tend to understand a pretty narrow strata of the American class common sense, the American class complex, which is kind of like downwardly mobile upper middle class people. What I saw in the once I left Korea and I lived in Northern Mexico, which was triply devastated, including by the Zetas and Allure-Cartel War.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for it been. And then I was in Egypt during the end of the counter-revolution. That was also, I kind of was like epicenters of reaction, frankly. But what I saw there in terms of the environment was we don't even have a way to discuss the environmental impact in a lot of these places. For example, I've been to Mexico City. The air there was not as bad as I heard. It was in the 90s. Actually it was getting a lot better. And I've been to Beijing. The air there was pretty bad, I'm not gonna lie, but it actually was not as bad as Egypt. But Egypt, cairo, is never into discussion because no one is measuring the pollution levels. Like when I will hear that?

Speaker 1:

like I live in Salt Lake City, which some days has as bad of air pollution because of mountain inversion effects as Beijing there are days where it's just as bad here as anything I saw in Beijing, but it's never as bad here as some of the worst seasons in Egypt and that's not even seemingly measured Like. I lived in Torreo in Mexico, I told you I lived in more than Mexico. I don't know that anyone has any idea of the air quality there. The water quality is not even from pollution or a lack of sanitation. That's all greatly exaggerated by Western, by, well, gringo chauvinist. I guess we should not say what. But it's not like Mexico isn't part of the West, but the whatever the fuck that means.

Speaker 1:

But the water had been dilapidated for industry, for the dairy industry, mostly going to the US, actually to the point that the lagoon region that I was living in was not a lagoon anymore.

Speaker 1:

It was mostly an arsenic pit and the poor. You would meet a lot of poor people who had splotches on their skin from non-terminal levels of arsenic poisoning and that's why you didn't drink the water. It wasn't because it was unsanitary, it was because the water had mostly been used for the cattle industry and humans were being given slag and if you could afford it, you could just have clean water delivered to your house. But it was a class good that, yes, as an American I could afford, but it was something to notice. And then, when I started thinking about the comparison between oh well, beijing's so polluted, and I'm like, well, okay, it's not great, not gonna lie, but there's all these places in the capitalist, developing or semi-developed world, wherever you wanna call a place like Mexico that we're not even keeping track of the environmental damage in a real way, and that was definitely true in North Africa.

Speaker 1:

I mean, it's just so. When I see the stats, I'm always like I don't know what that means, because there's whole parts of the world we're not comparing that, we're outsourcing this to and no one is paying attention to it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, in fact, that reminds me of the other aspect of environmental impact, which is about monitoring programs, one of the things that caught my attention when I was living in Hungary and doing my fieldwork for the dissertation, but also among other things. But what caught my eye was that in the county that I was doing the work, I was looking at soil acidification, the process of that. For the most part, there had been something like 20 soil monitoring stations in that one county, which is probably not larger, brooklyn, probably in size. 20 soil monitoring stations by the 90, so I saw the records other world not have known. They dwindled to eight after 1989.

Speaker 2:

In a couple of years, this state funds were cut and the monitoring program was even semi privatized. People had to spend money for the first time, like farmers would have to spend money to get information about their soils, and agronomy services were not provided for anymore. It's a disaster. And so, yeah, I didn't know about Egypt. I am at Beijing. I breathed that air a couple of times, like in 2015,. Then, when I was back again in 2018, the air was clear. It's like how the fuck they do that? A lot of state intervention, that's what it is yeah, for sure.

Speaker 1:

I will say, when I was in Beijing, it was like 2013, and I have heard from people who live there that things are better now. Yeah, so it's.

Speaker 2:

And in Delhi in India. It's one of the worst smog in the world and also where I'm from, in the Po Valley. Fortunately I was from the mountains or near the mountains, so I never really was affected directly, but the level of smog is off the charts. Every year that break the record, like for how many days they've gone with PM10s or PM5s or 2.5, over the limit. But they have the monitoring to do it, fortunately thanks to a lot of, I guess, and now less and less state funds going to that. But it takes. The other thing I wanted to mention is that it takes for that infrastructure, for the monitoring infrastructure, to not only to be present but also to be workable. I mean the labs and the analyses, the people who, specialists, and stuff like that. It takes quite a few resources to do that too. And how are you going to do that without having some environmental impact? I mean in the monitoring program itself, with all the reagents that are necessary to do the analyses, the machinery, the energy use. That's something else that oftentimes sort of does not seem to enter the picture in a lot of them, even the most mindful for ecotochalists or socialists with respect to environmental impact, and it's like well, can I think about these things too? And they're not minor impacts either, if you can multiply by thousands of monitoring stations that you would need in order to even understand whether what is going on is leading us in the right direction. So that's another bit, and that's what the US were doing.

Speaker 2:

It wasn't just the USSR, but one of the funny things is that I remember readings oh, the US didn't have environmental ministry until really late. Well, they didn't need one. Each department, the coming department, was actually responsible for having their monitoring program in the environment. Now, whether that worked or not, I mean, it depended a lot on power relations, petty behavior, like with anything, really it doesn't. I don't think that's gonna change necessarily. Whether you have a more democratic system or not, you're gonna have these kinds of difficulties at that scale. But still, they had it already integrated all of that, they didn't need an environmental ministry.

Speaker 2:

When they'd gotten environmental ministry, it was more like okay, let's coordinate everything that we already did before, which I think was more a greater improvement, frankly as well, but at the same time, it's like it won't. In order to achieve that, however, you have to put a lot more resources into the trading, monitoring and running the entire system to monitor levels that we cannot even imagine the United States. In Hungary, for example, just the soil monitoring program had, if I remember correctly, had a scale of analysis down to six hectares. I mean, it's like I don't know of other countries that achieved that. They were able to spot problems as a result of that and actually act on them in ways that in most countries you just simply have no chance of being able to do. So those are other things that one could learn, but first we have to get power.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's power in a nuclear armed state with the largest military apparatus that's ever existed in human history.

Speaker 2:

We're directing like a fraction of that would be very helpful in terms of having a lot more people better off, because that's one way, you know. It's like because you were talking earlier about how do you with the de-growth, how are you gonna get politically anywhere with that kind of talk? Well, maybe it wouldn't be de-growth, it could be the same policy, just run it under a different slogan, depending on the context that's what I would say but and then achieve the same thing. It's like why shouldn't everybody have the right to a composting toilet, for example? It should be like you know, part of federal spending, everybody composting toilet, a roof that works, it doesn't leak and it's long lasting and it's guaranteed also, and it's got the highest lead, you know, like the construction material and the housing, the highest lead level.

Speaker 2:

You know those things are actually achievable. I mean, they're eminently achievable. We have the technologies, the techniques, the technicians, the skilled. We could have even more skilled workers or even relatively unskilled workers being employed gainfully in those kinds of activities, just like half the military budget. I think that would be already.

Speaker 2:

It's like yeah, you know like, instead of like killing people getting killed, wouldn't it be nice if you had a proper house. You know, wouldn't it be nice if you had, like, if you didn't have to like worry about where your rubbish goes and you know, and then you don't have to worry about, like toilets clogging? I'm talking about toilets, but you know, it's just because sometimes it can be useful. I don't know because people don't think about it, but it's like you don't have to have to worry about clogging toilets. You actually you got your composting toilet and then, well, you can actually sell the compost and make some money on the side. You know, well, damn, I can shit and make money too. Damn it. No, that's cool. You know we're a national healthcare. Yeah, that's achievable very easy. We have like top notch potential healthcare system, like as anywhere in the world, and yet, like we have all these people suffering for no reason this kind of should be like no-brainers right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that one's even like. That one's a tough one because it's just like look, even the other capitalist societies realize that this was more efficient. I don't know what your problem is like. Yeah, exactly Like we spend more money with the worst outcomes of the OACD nation.

Speaker 2:

that like it's ridiculous and like and and yeah, so combining degrowth with better health.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I mean, it's the thing about Cuba. Is Cuba proof is a, is a is a proof positive of a lot of things, one of which it is proof positive office. You can actually do a whole lot Would preventative programs if they're incentivized, because that's part of why Cuban doctors are so lapsed. Them is because they focus on that. It was out of necessity originally but they focus on that and it works. So it's. You know, there's. There's a whole lot where I'm where I just point out to people like we could be saving. I Mean even like, like as a socialist I don't actually care about saving money, but you know, just as this transitional thing, I'm like you could save so much, just money At all levels of society, but by doing what is effectively even a capitalist reform, that we won't even do that, because I Really suspect it's about class power. Honestly, because the the Fortis compromise system that we have they got neoliberalized Really empowers employers, even after Obama cares reform.

Speaker 2:

The careless system. Yeah, obama careless yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we're gonna just put the mandate on on workers, put the cost on workers, only take care of the very poor, but at the expense of actually a good portion of the population, and Call that successful healthcare.

Speaker 2:

I know it's, it's tragic, it's sad. Yeah it was a bad joke on us.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it really was, anyway, so Thank you so much. I really enjoyed this conversation. I will definitely tell people they should check out your socialist states in the environment from Pluto press Came out a few years ago now. What like to, it's a 2019.

Speaker 2:

Two years ago. Fortunately, something that's not that. Okay, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I'm 20 21. All right Time is weird for me. I'm getting old.

Speaker 2:

Fine written. The book I would know myself.

Speaker 1:

And you have any other work you think people should check out?

Speaker 2:

I know if people interested in Urban agriculture. I caught in a book with with a friend of mine, george Martin, and, and it takes a look at the potentials and the pitfalls of Urban food production, all the difficulties, the challenges and how that it can be related to eco socialism. And there's also that's one of my, I guess, favorite things to do is an application of historical and dialectical materialism into Urban ecosystem functions, with, with, with urban gardening, so that's of interest. You know these. There's a handbook on on eco socialism that I co-edited with with my friends Lee Brown Hill and Michelle Lovie and Teresa Turner and Teran Giacomeini and that might be useful for people who are into eco socialism. You get a compendium Um, john Ballin Foster actually contributed, with Brett Clark in that volume as well. If people like I can't afford that stuff, you know just right to me, I'll Resolve the issue.

Speaker 1:

That is, that is appreciative of of an academic putting their, their, their copyright where their politics are. But, um, so yeah, I, I actually am very interested in what weirdly, actually, is often considered an formerly an ultra left topic because unfortunately, the only people who really did a whole lot of work in it were Maoist and or Bored a gist, weirdly. But which was the? The Urban agriculture and the, the, you know, evening out of town and country?

Speaker 1:

Yes, that's right, which I do think is a real problem for liberals and for socialist in a way that like Kind of speaks up on us a lot, because we do tend to just ignore that like well, yes, we are at a point, finally, where there are a majority of the world's population in cities, but, um, you Still gotta have the people who produce food on your side or they're gonna make things real hard.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, didn't the Bolshevik's learn that lesson I?

Speaker 1:

Mean. This is one of the reasons why, like oh, I was like the Chinese did learn something for Bolshevik screw ups. That was like you do kind of have to like keep the peasantry and the workers on the same side of an equation.

Speaker 1:

And we don't have a peasantry so much into develop world. But we do have a. We do have still rural agrarian workers and there's still tensions there. So we do have to deal with that, and part of that, I think, it's through urban agriculture and part of that's through actually really trying to deal with the needs of, of Of Rural workers, so that they are not incentivized to go with the petite bourgeoisie and be all reactionary, which is what's gonna happen otherwise.

Speaker 2:

Um, yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah, and.

Speaker 1:

I think socialists historically haven't been great at that and and to give the PRC it to do. For All that I can say about stuff that I may disagree with different periods of change and we have to periodize Chinese. Yeah, anyway, like you're like modern, modern PRC has very many distinct periods and I think we tended like Like, pretend that it's like now done and, actually, multiple currents within the party that really are in contrast with each other.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, oh yeah and are very hard to understand if you don't read and speak Mandarin. And I only know that not because I read and speak Mandarin. I don't Because I know people who do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I am like sponging off of others.

Speaker 1:

I know, I know a good bit of Korean, but we yeah, although it was funny, because when I was trying to learn more about the DPRK Talk about having ambivalent feelings about something, but what? I was actually the place where my Korean skills were good enough to do it I could not access anything Because South Korea sensors the shit out of Out of internet and book systems etc.

Speaker 2:

So I wouldn't have known that I have some Friends wearing no doodle and I don't know if you know that organization and I learned from them About a whole bunch of things that I was so completely ignorant about and but yeah, I didn't know about that, but what you're actually adding as well to that, because I didn't know the extent of it, wow, oh yeah yeah, getting even getting like English language, like, like, like North Korean news out of Russia and English which you can pretty much easily get in the US Normally you can't get in South Korea.

Speaker 1:

It's just, it's the two things that they really censor is porn and news about the North. Why it's? It's, it's definitely a thing and being. I used to tell people this, weirdly, the Republic of Korea was the only place where I lived where it was technically illegal For me to be a Marxist. They never. Oh yeah, the, the national security laws don't play, they don't. They don't deport people for it anymore. Usually they have, I think twice, but usually it's not that they don't invoke it, it's like, but it's this sort of damocles just hanging around If you, as a foreigner, get too Involved in local politics.

Speaker 1:

So again, free world. You know, and, and honestly, as a, as a English-speaking American, I had a lot more leeway than say, if you are, say, a Filipino worker which there are quite a few of and are a Bangladeshi Worker who's come over from one of the Korean owned the chebol own factories in Bangladesh. Because what people don't understand about South Korea's developmental model is it decided when, in the 70s, when Nixon placed all those restrictions on its textile imports, it decided to go to Southeast Asia and do what the US had done to it. So the chebols went and established factories in Bangladesh to get around the import restrictions, but then also realized they could leverage that as a way to increase local capital. So yeah, the imperialized in the imperialist world learn from the imperialist and then do it elsewhere. Like that, you know More a clever bunch.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a very I mean, you know, I guess game, recognized game, but it's, it's a pretty. Living in that part of the world and learning its history was very eye-opening. Also eye-opening the planning, because even the Even Sigmund Riedi anti-communist based its developmental program off of the Soviet developmental program. Like it, oh it, like explicitly.

Speaker 2:

Sigmund Riedi was one of the most vicious characters I've ever read about.

Speaker 1:

Oh, he was a nasty, nasty and Park, his successor, was also nasty, also had five-year programs it was. It was a very similar to to To Singapore there is oh.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, there is this way in which the capitalist world in in East Asia Learned a lot of things from the Soviets but then used them to fight communism. Very Again, I don't think I never hear Western leftists talk about this, just like, like, oh yeah, like, so it was so messed up that the the East Asian developmental model was based off of it or off of fascism. Those are your two options. No one, I mean, I guess I guess people who the one country that did what they were told to do was India, and you look how well that worked out for them.

Speaker 2:

Oh, um, uh, what. I think she's horrific. I mean it's painful. Yeah with India, oh man.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean when, when even a Martha sin is like yeah, maybe now how to point you know.

Speaker 2:

Anyway, thank you so much for your time. I agree, you too Take care Thanks.

Speaker 1:

I.

Debunking Environmental Myths in Socialist Countries
Environmental Impact
Environmental Policy in Socialist States
Environmental Impact in Socialist Countries
Socialism and Environmental Sustainability Debate
Challenges and Strategies of Socialist Movements
Coordination Challenges and Environmental Impact
Pollution, Monitoring, and Environmental Impact
Socialism, Healthcare, Urban Agriculture Discussion
Options and Opinions on India's Response