In Chris Williams’ detailed, illuminating book Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis, little deference is offered to lukewarm efforts within the current system to impact change.
The proposition is a simple one: wholesale socio-economic change is a requirement if we’re to take the impending environmental catastrophe the least bit seriously.
Williams, an environmental activist and adjunct professor at Pace University, is an informative and engaging writer, but his biggest weapon is his thorough research. The book provides copious notes and an extensive bibliography for further reading, padding his argument with more convincing weight.
The concept that capitalism is hostile to the environment and to our continued survival as a species on this planet isn’t new. Many may find the contention laughable, but those usual suspects will have trouble arguing with Williams’ deluge of evidence as to the environmental and social impact of the status quo.
Williams assembles things carefully, opening with a brief salvo on the scientific evidence of climate change. He follows with a chapter that tackles the Malthusian contention that overpopulation is the issue, neatly slicing into the opportunities these theories provide for generating “unsubstantiated class prejudice.” With reams of data, Williams tackles the issue of overpopulation’s role in environmental degradation and food shortages.
The main thrust of the book is spent on outlining capitalism’s failure to address the ecological problems of our day. Williams effortlessly shifts from various sets of information, coasting from the theories of Marx and Engels to the pathetic misconceptions of clean coal and nuclear power.
Ecology and Socialism spares no political party or clownish agenda, eviscerating Barack Obama’s limp carbon trading market and puncturing Al Gore’s vile self-promotion and hypocrisy, reminding us of the former vice-president’s absurd Kyoto compromise during the Clinton presidency.
Williams also spends considerable time on the “false solutions” offered by the capitalists. He describes the failure of Copenhagen to address climate change and plunges into the cap-and-trade stunt, leaving nothing behind but a withered skeleton.
Ecology and Socialism wraps with a series of solutions. Williams advocates societal change and presents answers to the current crisis that can be implemented without a complete overhaul. These incremental changes will still inevitably seem drastic to the hands of control, of course, but to most people Williams’ suggested course might make surprising sense.
With “socialism” still a dirty word in some of the knee-jerk United States, Ecology and Socialism may be a tough sell. But Williams has crafted a careful, insightful, incisive book and it deserves a wide audience.