Capital, Energy and Power

A 10-week Study Group with Fred Murphy and Steve Knight

Throughout the history of capitalism, energy sources and especially fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—have been critical to the system’s economic viability. The crises associated with climate change are rooted in capital’s insatiable need to burn fuels in order to accumulate wealth and maximize profits. Competition and greed for readily extractable energy resources have fueled wars and evoked popular resistance, especially in the Middle East. This study group will explore the history and political economy of oil, energy and capitalism. We will read George Caffentzis’s recently published No Blood for Oil! and related work by Michael Klare, Andreas Malm, Timothy Mitchell, and others.

FRED MURPHY has co-led several MEP study groups on Marxism, science, nature, and ecosocialism. He studied and taught historical sociology at the New School for Social Research.

STEVE KNIGHT has been a co-leader of MEP eco-socialist study groups since 2015. He is also a climate activist with the DSA and faith-centered groups, and reviews books on eco-socialism for Marx & Philosophy

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Climate Leviathan

The Political Challenge of Global Warming
Convened by Fred Murphy and Steve Knight

How will anthropogenic climate disruption transform alter the world’s basic political arrangements? In their new book Climate Leviathan, Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright warn that global warming will push capitalist elites toward an authoritarian imposition of “planetary sovereignty” to confront the crisis. In this four-week reading group we will examine their argument and the alternative they present: “a global, grassroots, and broad-based network … driven by a desire for a deeper form of democracy, one that provides communities with real control over those resources that are most critical to collective survival—the health of the water, air, and soil.”

FRED MURPHY has co-led several MEP study groups on Marxism, science, nature, and ecosocialism. He studied and taught historical sociology at the New School for Social Research. STEVE KNIGHT has participated in and co-led MEP study groups on ecosocialism since 2015. His review of Shock of the Anthropocene is forthcoming in the journal Marx & Philosophy.

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Climate Crisis, Climate Justice, Climate Fiction

A 10-week reading and discussion group
with Fred Murphy and Steve Knight

This study group will examine the dire situations ordinary people confront as climate change and related crises accelerate, and the struggles for climate and environmental justice that are arising to meet these challenges. We will look at such cases as Puerto Rico (Irma-Maria), New York (Sandy), and the Mideast (drought, wars, refugees), through lenses provided by Ashley Dawson, Christian Parenti, and others. The latter weeks of the group will take up the new genre of “climate fiction,” reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 and Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement.

FRED MURPHY has co-led several MEP study groups on Marxism, science, nature, and ecosocialism. He studied and taught historical sociology at the New School for Social Research. STEVE KNIGHT has participated in and co-led MEP study groups on ecosocialism since 2015. His review of Shock of the Anthropocene is forthcoming in the journal Marx & Philosophy.

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Extreme Cities

A Conversation with Ashley Dawson
co-host: NYC DSA Climate Justice

Join us as climate-justice activists engage in a dialogue with Ashley Dawson, author of Extreme Cities

Ashley Dawson argues that cities are ground zero for climate change, contributing the lion’s share of carbon to the atmosphere, while also lying on the frontlines of rising sea levels. He offers an alarming portrait of the future of our cities, describing the efforts of Staten Island, New York, and Shishmareff, Alaska residents to relocate; Holland’s models for defending against the seas; and the development of New York City before and after Hurricane Sandy.

As Dawson sees it, our best hope lies not with fortified sea walls but in urban movements already fighting to remake our cities in a more just and equitable way.

Ashley Dawson is a professor of English at the City University of New York, and also the author of Extinction: A Radical History.

No one turned away for inability to pay

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Challenging Militarism, Climate Change, and Human Nature

Challenging Militarism, Climate Change, and Human Nature: Revolutionary Mothering and A Politics of Responsibility
Judith Deutsch

Our ability to address urgent threats to our existence like climate change and nuclear weapons is hampered and undermined by questionable assumptions about “human nature” that underlie much political thought and action. In the book Revolutionary Mothering an anthology by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, Mai’a Williams, and Loretta J. Ross, women of color start from the interdependence of the child and the mothering person to propose a very different perspective on human experience, and the interface between individuals and institutions. Mothering and revolution are messy – there are no pat formulas or fixed paradigms. They propose a politics of necessity and responsibility, emphasizing needs rather than rights: “There will be no liberation without us knowing how to depend on each other, how to be encumbered with and responsible for each other.”

Judith Deutsch is a columnist for Canadian Dimension Magazine, former president of Science for Peace, and a psychoanalyst by profession. For reading prior to this presentation, please refer to Judith’s March 1 article in The Bullet: http://socialistproject.ca/bullet/1376.php

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Creating An Ecological Society

Towards a revolutionary transformation

Why Capitalism Must Go to Save the Earth
Capitalism is the problem and creating a new society is both possible and essential.

Fred Magdoff is Professor Emeritus of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont. Among his recent books are What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism (with John Bellamy Foster) and Agriculture and Food in Crisis (edited with Brian Tokar).

no one turned away for inability to pay

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Integrating Social and Natural Systems

Integrating Social and Natural Systems:
Implications for Sustainability and Resilience in a Changing World

Seven more sessions with Rebecca Boger
February 9 to March, 23, 2017
Thursdays, 7:30 to 9:30 pm

Although people around the world are increasingly living in cities such as New York City, we still exist in and are dependent on the natural environment. Whether we live in rural or urban places, we are greatly influencing Earth system processes, such as how water cycles between places, how soils are intricately linked to the movement of water, exchange of gases, and growth of plants even on Manhattan rooftop gardens, and how the composition of the atmosphere affects incoming and outgoing energy, which then impacts global climate change. To move toward sustainable and resilient societies, we need to realize that social and natural systems are interconnected and that both need to be considered when implementing change. Without considering the connectedness of natural and social systems, we run the risk of harming the environment or people even when intentions may be good. Focusing on the urban context, this course will focus on key concepts in Earth system science (water, air, soil, and life) and systems thinking. Gaining a perspective of how we exist in the natural world even in built environments influences the framing of questions and then how these questions might be answered in order to understand ways we can become sustainable and resilient societies.

Rebecca Boger has a background in geospatial technologies, marine science, and science education. At Brooklyn College, CUNY, she teaches geospatial technologies and works with anthropologists and archaeologists in Barbuda on socio-ecological resilience research, community based mapping, and environmental modeling. In the NYC area, she works with NYC Parks and Gateway National Recreation on historical mapping and trends analysis of marshes and shoreline. She continues her education work with a greater emphasis on sustainability, resilience, and climate change topics where she is helping to build an urban sustainability program and online materials.

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Anthropocene or Capitalocene?: Nature, History, & the Crisis of Capitalism

Jason W. Moore
and Christian Parenti
Jason W. Moore and Christian Parenti introduce a new essay collection, Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism. The book challenges the theory and history offered by proponents of the “Anthropocene” and stresses how climate change and related crises are rooted in the rise and domination of capital.The book challenges the theory and history offered by proponents of the “Anthropocene” and stresses how climate change and related crises are rooted in the rise and domination of capital – hence the “Capitalocene.” This work offers a more nuanced and dialectical view of human environment-making, joined at every step with and within the biosphere.

Jason W. Moore is a historical geographer and world historian at Binghamton University, where he is Associate Professor of Sociology and Research Fellow at the Fernand Braudel Center. He is author of Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015) and editor of Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (PM Press, 2016). He writes frequently on the history of capitalism, environmental history, and social theory. Moore is presently completing Ecology and the Rise of Capitalism, an environmental history of the rise of capitalism, and with Raj Patel, Seven Cheap Things: A World-Ecological Manifesto – both with the University of California Press. He is coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network.

Christian Parenti is a professor in the Global Liberal Studies Program at New York University. His latest book, Tropic of Chaos, explores how climate change is already causing violence as it interacts with the legacies of economic neoliberalism and cold-war militarism. Previous works analyzed the US occupation of Iraq and surveillance, police, and prisons in the United States. His contribution to Anthropocene or Capitalocene? focuses on the role of national states as environment-making institutions.

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Marxism, Science and The Anthropocene

A Study Group convened by Fred Murphy and Steve Knight
September 21 – November 23

This ongoing study group considers how Marxists and other critical thinkers address the nexus of capitalism, science, threats to human existence on planet Earth, and the fight for climate justice and ecosocialism. For the Fall 2016 session we will take up works by Andreas Malm (Fossil Capital), Jason Moore et al. (Anthropocene or Capitalocene?), and Ian Angus (Facing the Anthropocene).

Steve Knight is involved in eco-advocacy as a member of 350NYC, a GreenFaith Fellow working with faith communities, and a certified energy efficiency auditor for multifamily buildings. He has been interested in Marxian analysis and ecosocialism since 2004, when he studied Capital with David Harvey.

Fred Murphy studied and taught historical sociology at The New School and has co-led several MEP courses. His adolescent dream of a career as a research chemist was diverted by the sixties radicalization, but he has never lost interest in the sciences

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Marxism, Science and the Anthropocene

A Study Group convened by Fred Murphy and Steve Knight
Tuesdays, April 12 through June 7, no class May 17

This group will read and discuss classic and contemporary works in the Marxist tradition that address the nexus of capitalism, science, nature, and climate change. The central text will be McKenzie Wark’s Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene, along with selections from Engels’s Dialectics of Nature and work by Donna Haraway, Carolyn Merchant, George Caffentzis, Jason Moore and others. As Wark has noted, “the Western Marxist tradition typically disqualified the sciences as fetishes of the particular, unable to grasp the totality. But climate science in particular takes as its object totality in a quite different sense: the totality of metabolic processes that take place on a planetary scale, and in particular the contribution of collective human labor to those processes. Given what we now know about climate change, the nexus of labor, techne and nature seems like an important one.”

Steve Knight is involved in eco-advocacy as a member of 350NYC, a GreenFaith Fellow working with faith communities, and a certified energy efficiency auditor for multifamily buildings. He has been interested in Marxian analysis and ecosocialism since 2004, when he studied Capital with David Harvey.

Fred Murphy studied and taught historical sociology at The New School and has co-led several MEP courses. His adolescent dream of a career as a research chemist was diverted by the sixties radicalization, but he has never lost interest in the sciences.

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