Capitalism: Causes, Conditions, Consequences … and Beyond

Capitalism: Causes, Conditions, Consequences … and Beyond

The Ecosocialism Group convened with Fred Murphy and Steve Knight

8 Sessions

The Marxist Education Project’s Ecosocialism Study Group — now completing its third year — devotes the winter 2019 term to Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi’s Capitalism: A Conversation in Critical Theory. Join us for a close reading of this new work, which shows how different historical regimes of capitalism have relied on institutional separations between economy and polity, production and social reproduction, and human and non-human nature. Interaction between these domains is periodically readjusted in response to crises and upheavals. Such “boundary struggles” can help us better grasp capitalism’s contradictions and elaborate strategies for moving beyond it. Supplementary readings will be drawn from related work by David Harvey, Silvia Federici, and others.


FRED MURPHY and STEVE KNIGHT have co-led the Ecosocialism Study Group since 2016. Both are active in DSA’s climate justice work. Fred studied and taught historical sociology at The New School for Social Research. Steve reviews books for Marx & Philosophy and is active in faith-centered environmental groups.

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Red/Green Revolution

The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism
with author Victor Wallis

Red-Green Revolution is an impassioned and informed confrontation with the planetary emergency brought about by accelerated ecological devastation in the last half-century. Victor Wallis argues that sound ecological policy requires a socialist framework, based on democratic participation and drawing on the historical lessons of earlier efforts.

In the age of Trump and with a lack of sound U.S. ecological policies, Wallis’s book could not come at a better time. Red-Green Revolution confronts the emergency produced by the accelerated devastation of the last half-century. The human species is in a race against time to salvage and restore what it can of the environmental conditions that make a healthy existence possible. This task requires us to reconsider not only the type of energy that we use, but also the institutions, the technology, and the social relationships that determine what is produced, in what quantities, by what methods, and to what ends.

At the heart of Wallis’s call to action is the ever-vital debate of capitalism vs. socialism and their relationships to protecting ecological order. Arguing that proper ecological policy requires a socialist framework, based on democratic participation and drawing on the historical lessons of earlier efforts, Wallis writes about how the task of establishing such a framework may evolve through the convergence of popular struggles – against all forms of oppression – as these have emerged under conditions of crisis.

Victor Wallis is a professor of Liberal Arts at the Berklee College of Music. For twenty years he was the managing editor of Socialism and Democracy and has been writing on ecological issues since the early 1990s. His writings have appeared in journals such as Monthly Review and New Political Science, and have been translated into thirteen languages.

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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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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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Day 3, Session 3: Prometheus in Ruins? Uses and Abuses of the Hero Who Stole Fire

A presentation and discussion with Anthony Galluzzo
Mechanical Prometheanism was for long the signature myth of Western modernization. Both capitalists and socialists embraced the Greek myth of Prometheus’s theft of fire from the gods as shorthand for Progress — technological determinism and human domination of the natural world — while neglecting the ethico-political dimensions of the myth. Prometheanism achieved its apotheosis during the twentieth century, when futurism and productivism shaped capitalism and state socialism alike. Today the taste for such techno-scientific drive to mastery has waned, at least among many Marxists and ecosocialists coming to grips with the environmental costs of industrial modernization. But as planetary civilization and the planet itself confront ecological collapse, techno-utopianism is making a come-back, from the cyber-libertarian solutionists of Silicon Valley to the ostensibly left accelerationists who seek to revive Prometheus — without ever asking which Prometheus they want to revive. This talk will trace the history of Promethean ideology, beginning with the Godwin/Malthus debates of the 1790s, through its current revival within certain precincts of the left, particularly as it intersects with the ecological crisis and Anthropocene theory today. We will contrast this to alternative Prometheanisms, from the Shelleys through Marx to present-day ecosocialist currents.

Anthony Galluzzo is a lecturer at NYU. He studies radical transatlantic literary culture of the 1790s and its afterlives in socialism, utopian fiction, and the gothic novel. He has contributed several articles to Jacobin and other journals. His home base is in Brooklyn, where he grew up.

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