Saturday, 20 May 2017

Giving Rights to Trees. But Forgetting the Forests

Some four weeks ago, I posted my text on the "Rights of Rivers" (see below!), with which I had responded to a discussion that was going on in a google discussion group called Radical Ecological Democratic List. That was the beginning of another discussion in the said group: on the right to life of individual chimpanzees. A participant had informed us earlier that in the USA, a lawyer-philosopher had won court cases which he had lodged on behalf of two chimpanzees. The court ruled that the two chimps deserved a peaceful retired life after serving humans for many years.
    I responded with the following text:

Once more
reg. Rights and duties of rivers, trees, chimps, elephants and ad inifinitum.
Giving rights to trees. But forgetting the forests that are destroyed

This is again a very abstract discussion. Of course, also interesting as a piece of news on the idiosyncrasies and fads of a few particular lawyer-philosophers. Maybe this way they can do good to a particular chimp or two, whom they have come to love after coming to personally know them, by chance (Incidentally, they surely themselves feel well. Who does not, if she can do something good?). But what should radical ecological activists, nature lovers and animal lovers in general say? Those who are neither a lawyer nor have ever come to love a particular chimp?
Prof. Singer at least philosophized on liberating the animals, all animals, wanted to win human rights for all big apes, because they are so much like us.
    I remember a film entitled Free Willy. The activist boy, who fought for freeing Willy, had come to love this particular killer whale. But killer whales are not as intelligent as chimps. So what? I love this killer whale. Good film, touched the viewers' heart. But what about thousands of whales that are still being killed by whalers of Norway and Japan? At least some Americans and Europeans are trying to save them. But the chimps and gorillas of Africa who are not fortunate enough to be loved by some particular white humans? Hundreds of them are being killed for their meat (called bush meat) by humans of Africa. This is a very difficult issue. Even Arne Naess, the famous original philosopher (not an activist) of Deep Ecology could not but notice the problem. He wrote:

"When we attempt to live out our relationship with other living beings, difficult questions naturally arise. … Our apprehension of the actual conditions under which we live our own lives … make it crystal clear that we have to injure and kill, in other words, actively hinder the self-unfolding of other living beings." (emphasis added).

We can of course tell Africans of the Sahel zone, they should, because they could, become vegetarians. But can we say that to the Inuits of Greenland?
   How many of us are committed to saving the remaining living space of the remaining chimps and gorillas of the African jungle, that of the remaining Orangutans of the rain forests of Borneo, that of the majestic lions and great elephants of the African Savanna, and that of the Indian elephants of the Terrai region? Theoretically, all of us. But, in reality, these animals are rapidly losing their living space to humans because, firstly, the latter's total number is growing exponentially, because, secondly, in these poor underdeveloped regions of the world, growing numbers of farmers need more and more land, thirdly, because growing numbers of cattle breeders need more and more grazing land. And, last but not least, because also capitalist agri-corporations must expand or perish. Soon there will be "no room for wild animals" any more.
    How long will we keep our eyes shut and "pretend that we just do not see" the real, deeper causes of the killings of lions and elephants and rhinos and gorillas and chimps? Those very few of leftists who still call themselves communists or Marxists do talk about capitalism being the real culprit. But they see red if anybody mentions population growth being one of the deeper causes. But also most ecology activists do not raise the population issue. Why? Because, I guess, they are humanists. Humanists after all cannot see humanty as the culprit. Moreover, they are protagonists of human rights, and reproductive rights and democratic rights, and what have you, of everybody and all peoples and cultures of the world. So they suggest all kinds of technological fixes and/or small projects for all ecological problems, but never utter the P word. But radical ecologists? When will we say openly and loudly that the growing number of us humans is another "culprit"? They after all know very well the connection between the total number of humans and the total number of the other species, that they are inversely proportional. Paul Ehrlich, a famous American biologist, wrote addressing people like us, leftists and/or radical ecologists: "Whatever [be] your cause, it is a lost cause, unless we control population [growth]".
    Compared to the overall situation today, are not the cases of individual chimps,
Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo, much ado about insignificant things? These animals are after all not being brutally eliminated! Are not these cases distracting us from the great tasks of today?

Friday, 28 April 2017

Rights of Rivers? -- Are They Realizable?

Some two weeks ago I read an interesting article in which it was reported that on March 20 a High Court judge of a province of India called Uttarakhand has issued a ruling that the rivers Ganga and Jamuna, considered holy by the Hindus, and their tributaries have rights as a ‘juristic/legal person/living entity’. Five days before this, the New Zealand Parliament had passed into law the Te Awa Tupua Bill, which gives the Whanganui river and ecosystem legal personality, guaranteeing its ‘health and well-being’.
    The purpose of the authors of the said article – Ashish Kothari and Shrishtee Bajpai – was not just to report about these cases. They analysed the implications of the ruling on the Ganga and Jamuna and speculated on the possibility and difficulties of implementing the ruling in the real world.
    I read the article with great interest, because, in the mid 1990s, I had read a few eco-philosophical texts of the deep ecology school. The article triggered in my head further thoughts, which I wrote down and posted as a short comment.
    Later, the article gave rise to a long chain of letters in a google discussion group, in which the contributors further speculated on the possibility or otherwise of making the ruling of the Uttarakhand High Court judge operational.
    A few days ago, I had been admitted in this google group as a member. So I got all the letters. I read them and found them too abstract. Then I too made a contribution to the discussion.
    Below, I first give the link to the article of Kothari and Bajpai. Then you will find my comment on the article posted in the same journal. Thereafter I append my contribution to the discussion in the google-group.
    I request my readers to first read the article of Kothari and Bajpai, and thereafter my two texts.

Saral' Comments on the Article

Many thanks to Kothari and Bajpai for this highly informative article. It not only informs but also points out the contradictions involved in this particular piece of court ruling. However, the judges and our authors have opened a Pandora's Box, that cannot be closed without killing many "holy cows". That is to say, they have revealed several more fundamental contradictions that sincere ecological activists know about since long. Let me mention here just the two most fundamental ones: (1) that between economic development per se and protection of the rest of nature, and (2) that between modern humans as a whole and the rest of nature.
    For citizens of India it should be of interest to know that already before 1947, Gandhiji and Nehruji had a very serious dispute on the question of development, which Gandhiji totally rejected and which Nehruji wholeheartedly promoted. They kept their related correspondence under lock and key for fear that, if published, it would split the independence movement
    As regards the other contradiction, it relates to the number of humans living in any habitat or the whole world (taken as one habitat) and their conception of basic needs and good living. Neither the 1.3 billion humans in India nor the 7.5 billion humans in the world can live, let alone live well, without degrading every part of nature. You simply cannot eat the cake and have it too.
    Not Gandhiji, nor the vegetarians of India, but Arne Naess and his followers who initiated the Deep Ecology movement in the West formulated the first of the eight principles of the Deep Ecology Platform as follows:

"The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman Life on Earth have value in themselves (synonymous: intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes."

    Can we resolve these contradictions through a compromise? That may be possible, but surely not just through a ruling of a court. May I request Kothari and Bajpai to contribute another, a longish, article on these questions?


Saral's Contribution to the google group Discussion, dt. 27.04.2017

I have been reading this discussion from the very beginning, i.e. beginning with the article of Ashish and Ms. Bajpai, on which I commented in* In the meantime so many things have been said by so many participants that I do not remember who said what. That is however unimportant, because my following comments are very general.

(1) The terms right and duty are necessarily anthropocentric. Neither inanimate beings, such as rivers and mountains and nature reserves nor animals other than humans have such concepts in their head, let alone have the ability to articulate them. So, logically, it is only humans who can give rights to other humans and pronounce duties of humans to fellow humans and inanimate entities.

(2) The whole discussion is too abstract, so abstract that it is of little use either for government action or for activities of political groups. A right or a duty does not at all become more real or useful if a judge of a court declares it in a ruling.
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was pronounced in 1948 by humans (UNO) for humans. But, as we know, till today, even such concrete human rights mostly remain on paper, unrealized. Why? Because, as of today, in any big society, say all inhabitants of a village in India, the humans are divided in various interest groups (call it class, caste, religious group, gender or whatever). A particular human right is not in the interest of all members of a society.
    Among humans, an aggrieved person or a group of persons can fight for her/his right. But what can a river do, or a mountain, or a tract of land (nature reserve)? Humans, who are supposed to fight for the rights of a river etc. are themselves divided on the basis of their own material interests.

(3) This is so because water, fertility of land, minerals in or below a mountain are resources needed by humans.
    I remember, as early as in the 1950s (or the 1960s), India and East Pakistan (since 1971 called Bangladesh) fought on the question of right to use the waters of the Ganga. India wanted to build a barrage on the river at Farracka to divert water to the port of Kolkata which was rapidly silting. East Pakistan was worried about the navigability of the river on which the port of Khulna lay.
    In the meantime, the population of both countries have tripled or quadrupled and their needs have skyrocketed and even now growing exponentially.

    In conclusion, I would say if we political activists want to do something about the undeniably abstract rights of such inanimate entities, we should rather pay more attention to the practical questions of material interests of humans, interest conflicts among them, resource and consumption needs of humans, and especially the growing human population.
    Sometime back I formulated an impossibility theorem. It is as follows:

It is impossible to fulfill the continuously growing demands, wishes, aspirations and ambitions of a continuously growing world population while our resource base is continuously dwindling and the ability of nature to absorb man-made pollution is continuously diminishing. It is a lunatic idea that in a finite world infinite growth is possible.


Further Comments of Saral

I think I should here add another important point that occurred to me later:

Both in the article of Kothari and Bajpai and my two comments/contributions we have discussed how difficult it is to make the ruling on the Ganga and Jamuna operational. But in my subsequent readings, till now, I have found no such discussion on the matter in connection with the Whanganui River, as if the New Zealanders and Maoris involved cannot imagine any difficulty that may arise after passing of the said law. I think this difference can be explained if we consider the following facts:
    New Zealand's population density is 17 per km2 , India's 368 per km2. These figures are for the whole area of New Zealand and India respectively. If we could have the figure for the Ganga-Jamuna basin, we would surely see that the figure far surpasses that of India as a whole. I could check the figure for Uttar Pradesh, which is a part of the Ganga-Jamuna basin. It is
829 per km2.
     Kothari and Bajpai have described, in a few sentences, the demands that economic development is making on the Ganga. On the just 290 km long Whanganui River we can read the following sentences: "It is essentially left in its natural state, since it does not flow through any big population or industrial centre. On the contrary, it flows through two national parks and is New Zealand's centre of river Kayak sport" (the German Wikipedia). I hope everything is clear now.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Nafeez Ahmed's Book: Failing States, Collapsing Systems, Biophysical Triggers of Political Violence


Dear friends,

I know you as a politically interested person. You may even be a political activist. If you know me and my writings (, then you know that I have been writing since long about limits to growth, peak oil, unviability of renewable energies, the general ecological crisis, crisis of capitalism, the danger of collapsing states etc.
    Recently, Johny Rutherford, a young friend from Australia, informed me about a publication which has pleased me very much. It is a small book, just 94 pages, by Nafeez Ahmed entitled

Failing States, Collapsing Systems, Biophysical Triggers of Political Violence.

In it the author has collated all the relevant biophysical data – global as well as from various problem countries – that explain why countries like Somalia or Yemen have failed and why he thinks that even such a rich country like Saudi Arabia is in danger of becoming a failed state. Ahmed thinks that even China, the second biggest economy of the world today, and India, a self-styled emerging economic superpower, may suffer the same fate.
    After reading a review-summary of the book made by
Alice Friedman (see below), I find Ahmed's reasoning very convincing.
    The book is very dear, but the review-summary is available free of cost in the internet. I
appeal to all politically interested and active people to read at least the latter and forward it to all political decision makers and opinion leaders of their country (add also your appeal to them) plus to all those who are worried about the fate of their native country and humanity at large. I am going to do the same.

With best wishes

Saral Sarkar


Alice Friedmann:

Monday, 13 February 2017

John Foran's Response


 Dear Friends,

 after I posted my essay The Ecology Movement is Not a Social MovementA Response to John Foran's Article on the How-Question,, an online journal sponsored by the Post Carbon Institute (PCI) published it too. Thereupon, Foran published his response to my response in the said journal in the form of a letter to me. It is not just a comment, it is an article. I thought I should post the link to the article in my own blog, so that my readers who generally do not access are made aware of it. Here it is: 

With best wishes
Saral Sarkar


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Ecology Movement is not a Social Movement -- A Response to John Foran's Article on the How-Question

John Foran has issued a wake-up call, a "call to arms", and addressed it to colleagues and comrades:1
    I feel spoken to. Not only because of its subject, but also because I am both a colleague and a comrade of Foran. I have namely been both studying and writing about social movements as well as actively participating since the 1950s in all movements for radical social change – in India and Europe.2 I am a bit dissatisfied with the contents of Foran's article.

Climate Change is Only a Part of the General Global Ecology Crisis Affecting Societies

In the beginning Foran speaks of an
unprecedented crisis, in a world beset by massive social problems. He enumerates the latter and then names the unprecedented crisis: it is "climate change" which he regards as "a crisis of humanity and of all species." But climate change did not suddenly fall from the sky like a "wicked" meteorite. Firstly, it is only a part, albeit at present the most dangerous part, of the general global ecology crisis. Climate is changing because of global warming, which in turn is being caused by a particular kind of air pollution, namely excessive concentration of CO2 and some other green house gases in air. Secondly, this unprecedented crisis of humanity has really been brewing, without being noticed by many people, for nearly two hundred years now, i.e. since the beginning of the industrial civilization. It was already foreseen and indicated in 1972 in the book Limits to Growth, the subject matter of which had six years earlier been dealt with by the American social scientist (political economist) Kenneth Boulding as the central theme of his essay on spaceman economy and cowboy economy (1966).3
comprehensive and historical view of today's "unprecedented crisis of humanity" is actually lacking in the wake-up call of Foran. He of course mentions the term "ecology", but only in the context of a scientific principle. I did not find in the article the term ecology crisis. Instead, he uses the term "environment" in the phrase "movements for environmental, climate, and social justice".
    In my experience, the terms ecology and environment (German: Umwelt) are generally loosely used synonymously. But I think, for the sake of clarity, they should be understood as slightly different things.
Ecology is the branch of biology that studies relations among populations of organisms in an habitat – including both symbiotic and prey-and-predator relations – and between them and their respective physical and organic environment that contains the resources the species need for survival. As soon as we bring in humans in our considerations and study their interactions with other organisms and the physical environment of the particular habitat, ecology becomes a social science, political ecology, because humans are political animals (zoon politicon).
    When a group of humans are trying, say, to keep the air clean – locally or globally, in their own interest or not – it is an
environmental movement. The same applies to a movement to protect e.g. a particular marshland or all marshlands of the world or mangrove forests. But when the environmental conditions in a particular habitat or on the whole earth or the numerical relations between humans and other organisms have deviated so much from the equilibrium/optimum (i.e. deteriorated) that the resource base, hence survival, of (a population of) humans is in danger, then we should speak of an (global) ecological crisis. We should use the term (global) ecology movement when we are speaking of the efforts of the whole humanity or a part thereof to restore the equilibrium, i.e. health, of our one and only habitat because it is so important for our survival. To make it clearer, an environmental movement of the NIMBY (not in my backyard) type must not be called an ecology movement. In theoretical ecological literature there is a formula for showing the level of ecological crisis:

Impact = Population  x  Affluence  x  Technology 4

     In Foran's wake-up call, however, there is no mention of these elements of the crisis, no mention of overpopulation – of particular populations of humans or of the seven and a half billion humans in the world, no mention of the standard of living, i.e. affluence (resource problem), no mention of high-tech as a problem. There is also no mention of the conflicts of interests and power struggles between different populations of humans (ethnies, nations. identity groups etc.) that result from changes in the above elements. But without such a comprehensive view – global warming being only a part of the total impact of our present civilization – we would neither understand the crisis of humanity nor would we be able to save the biosphere of the planet, humanity's only home. Without such a view, we would also not find a solution to any of the social problems Foran mentions.5

What is to Be Done? Are the Social Movements of Any Help?

Nevertheless, unlike his friends Bill McKibben and Co., Foran seems to have realized that we cannot tackle the unprecedented crisis of humanity only by tackling climate change, and that too only by means of a very rapid and massive technological change – 100% renewable energies – brought about with the help of engineers and investors. He is a member of So I guess he takes it for granted that, firstly, such a massive technological change is necessary and possible, and that, secondly, it is possible without much negative impact on human society and the global environment. But, unlike many others in his scientific community, he thinks that is not enough. That is why he speaks at the very beginning of

"a world beset by massive social problems – the obscene poverty and inequality that neoliberal capitalist globalization has wreaked on at least two-thirds of humanity, the immobility of the political elite almost everywhere, and cultures of violence that poison our lives from the most intimate relations to the mass murder of the world’s wars.
    These interconnected problems are rooted in long-standing processes of inequality – patriarchy, racism,
colonialism, capitalism, and now corporate-controlled globalization – whose ongoing, overlapping legacies are making the early twenty-first century a crucial hinge of history."

That is why he is also calling – and this is his great merit – for a radical social change. He writes:

"We may need a combination of both a dense network of movements and a totally new type of political party to achieve anything like deep radical social change. These movements will have to develop both powerful political cultures of opposition, and compelling political cultures of creation."

That is why he wants to make the global climate justice movement the most radical social movement of the twenty-first century. And that may also be his reason for being a member of the Green Party of California. But there are a few problems:

The Ecology Movement is not a Social Movement, Because
There is a Conflict Between Them

Social movements as we know them are not useful for solving the crisis of humanity that we are talking about now. I came to this conclusion in the 1990s. Let me repeat, with a few changes, what I wrote then:

We must realize that there is a fundamental difference between the ecology movement and social and socialist movements of the past. Until the ecology movement emerged, most large movements arose from social problems. In earlier epochs, in the industrial societies, most social problems could, at least partly, be solved through more or less continuous economic growth. Acute poverty could be overcome and wages increased. The poor, the unemployed and students got financial help. Care of the old and the ill was provided for, Women got the franchise and also better paid jobs in industry and trade. Democratic rights were recognized and extended. The demands of all social movements could be fulfilled to a large extent, thanks to the growing cake. But with the emergence of the ecology movement, the situation has changed completely. Now, not only must the cake not grow, it must shrink. The very basis of the ability of industrial societies to solve social problems in its particular way must be attacked if the problems from which the ecology movement arose are to be solved. For the first time in history, a mass movement "promises" to lower the standard of living of the masses.6

    In fact, in my experience in Germany from 1982 till now, I have known some old social movements as special opponents of the ecology movement (but not of the environmental movement) and some others as indifferent to the questions and doubts raised by the ecology movement. Thus in the early 1980s, the ecology movement and the Green Party – in its early years, when it was really radical – were opposed and abused by the trade unions and, generally speaking, the working class movement as destroyers of their jobs and prosperity. The latter two, for example, actively opposed the anti-nuclear- energy movement, they opposed the movement to close down the lignite mines. And they opposed the idea of drastically raising petrol prices in order to reduce private motorized transportation (automobile traffic). Roughly the same was the attitude of activists of the Third World solidarity movement. They were generally uninterested in such issues and causes. Their focus was on anti-imperialism, Third World countries' right to development, fair trade, development aid etc.
    In contrast to their oppositional stance or indifference toward the above mentioned radical ecological demands and proposals, no social movement, old or new, have ever hesitated to support e.g. the movement against dying of forests (due to air pollution) or the demand to fit every car with catalytic converters in order to keep the air in urban areas clean. These latter issues are, in my opinion, typical for the
environmental movement.

New Social Movements

One may now object that Foran is not a defender of the old social movements (e.g. the old working class movement, old Women's Movement), that he is seeking to mobilize the new ones in order to build "a dense network of movements" and so to "make the
global climate justice movement the most radical social movement of the twenty-first century." Right. But it should be in order, I think, to also examine this movement a bit. Here is first its short self-introduction:

"Young people across the globe are leading a movement for a real power shift: we're addressing the climate crisis by standing up to corporate polluters and tackling root causes of the crisis, while lifting up community and people-centered solutions.
    Countries like the United States, who have greater historical responsibility for causing climate change must be held to higher standards for reducing emissions and addressing impacts,
including adequate financial support.
    The dirty energy industry is jeopardizing the future of young people, indigenous peoples, people in developing nations, and the very survival of small island states, but there are young people across the planet who are passionate and committed to stabilizing the climate, restoring democracy, upholding human rights, and transforming the climate crisis into an
opportunity to design new systems."7

    I do not here want to repeat my critique of the logic of isolating the climate crisis  from the whole ecology crisis nor my doubts about the feasibility and viability of the idea of transition to 100% renewable energies for solving the global climate crisis. See for these points my articles on the optimism of McKibben, Krugman, COP21 declaration (Paris) 8 But even otherwise this self-introduction does not inspire me very much.
    They claim to be "tackling the
root causes of the crisis", I do not see any sign thereof. What are the root causes? Like all old-left radicals before them, they too are blaming the crisis solely on "corporate polluters", "the dirty energy industry", and capitalist/imperialist "countries like the United States" etc. And they want to lift up community and people-centered solutions, as if the communities and the people are totally free from any responsibility for the climate crisis, global ecology crisis or the crisis of humanity. This is a very simple black and white picture. Like in Foran's wake up call, and McKibben's grandiose plan, there is no mention of population and affluence, the most variable and the most important factors in the equation mentioned further above. They may even be saying these two may or must be allowed to continue to grow.
    And then there are the
tall claims: "Young people across the globe are leading a movement for a real power shift." How can you lead a movement without first presenting a convincing analysis of the crisis? After all, global warming did not suddenly fall from the sky! Some such radical young people sometimes also talk of the need for system change. Not bad, but at best they mean by "system" capitalism, not industrialism itself. However, the secrets of power of the powerful and the longevity of the system are not that easy to understand, they need deep, thorough and sincere analysis. Radical slogans and presence on the streets in large numbers are not enough.
     Let us now look at a few other new or currently very active old movements that are pursuing a social end, each for itself. They enjoy mass participation, hence they may qualify as a social movement: Unfortunately, after the withering away of the
old international socialist movement, which was truly global both in the sense of its presence in the whole world and in the sense of fighting for a socialist society for the whole humanity, the social movements of today (at least those I know of) have reduced themselves to movements for what is generally and properly called identity politics. The separatist movements of today – those of the Catalans, Basques, Scots etc. belong to this category.
    In the USA, the human rights movement is mainly represented by the
Black Lives Matter movement. Earlier such movements – Black Power Movement and the Black Panthers – have, like the current one, clearly been movements of and for the Blacks and against their oppression and discrimination in the USA. In the media I have several times come across the slogan "white lives matter too". But there is no general movement against the high-handed, now and then even murderous behavior of the US police forces. I haven't ever heard of any contribution of the Black Lives Matter movement (we are here not talking of individuals) to other general or particular causes related to the struggle against capitalism or imperialism nor to the struggle for protecting the environment or the ecology.
    Roughly the same can be said about the
new women's (feminist) movement, although there are some feminist theorists who have realized the problem and call themselves eco-feminists, while some others among them organized in the past some conferences and demonstrations on some general issues (e.g. women against nuclear power plants, women against genetic engineering) in which exclusively women were invited to take part and speak. But the anomaly remains. The justification for such special identity-based demonstrations and conferences on general issues is not clear, since there has never been an eco-masculinist nor a patriarchal ecological theory or movement.
    The anomaly recently became clear in the campaign phase of the 2016 US presidential election, in which all women (50% of the voters) were called upon to vote for Hilary Clinton, because now "it was the turn of a woman" to become president, because the "glass ceiling" had to be broken through. But the majority of white women voted for Trump. I recently read an interesting and revealing article on this anomaly. The author Susan Chiradec9 asked some white young women about their explanation for Clinton's defeat. She reports that white young women did in their majority vote for Clinton, but "their enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders during the primary seemed to say that
for some, feminism’s traditional preoccupations seem out of date." In October, Chiradec had asked some such women "about their perceptions of Clinton." One politically active woman "said she found Mrs. Clinton’s feminism outdated, failing to prioritize climate change, income inequality and the toll of American intervention overseas." Chiradec writes further, "the brand of feminism that spoke to her, though, wasn’t about breaking historic barriers. It was more specific: 'progressive feminism, eco-feminism.'
    When one speaks of the
ecology movement (as distinct from the environmental movement), one should bear in mind that this movement is not so much in the interest of or for the wellbeing of the present generations of grown-up people as for the wellbeing of the future, yet unborn generations – at the most for that of the children of today. And it is about us modern humans withdrawing from much of those territories that we encroached upon in the past decades and centuries – in order to leave enough space for the rest of nature, i.e. for the other species, so that they can continue to exist on this blue planet.10 That means, not only must our ecological footprint be drastically reduced, but also the sheer numbers of humans. The women's movement's persistent opposition to any kind of population control program in developing countries in the name of reproductive rights of individual women is not compatible with this imperative, nor the Third World developing nations' right to development.
    To take another example, in India, the "
Dalits" (members of the lowest castes among Hindus plus the indigenous tribes) have since time immemorial been suffering from social discrimination and through it also oppression and economic deprivation. In the decades before and after India became independent (1947) they struggled to overcome the caste system. But in the 1990s, they began fighting for special economic rights in the sense of reservation of jobs and places in universities for them. When these demands were accepted, the movement succeeded but it also moved away from its great goal of reforming Hindu society and "annihilate caste". This huge identity-based social movement has nothing to contribute to the struggle to save the biosphere of the planet. Even if, as is happening of late, they realize the limitations of their kind of movement and ally themselves with the national left movement for social justice11, they will have nothing to contribute to it because the whole national left movement has nothing but the interests of the currently living working class in mind.
    Such identity-based movements may very well be necessary as long as a particular group of citizens (Blacks, women, Dalits) do not find adequate attention to their sufferings and particular grievances, oppressions and discriminations in the established political system. But it must be clear that ultimately a black person, a woman, a Dalit etc. is also a member of society at large, citizen of a particular state along with all others, ultimately, as a human being, a citizen of the world. They cannot free themselves completely from their own particular oppression and discrimination unless the system of oppression and discrimination as a whole is overcome. Nor can they secure the future of their children unless the biosphere is protected. Of course, they may get certain concessions, such as affirmative actions to favor them in economic and job matters. The most intelligent and qualified among them can be co-opted in the ruling elite. But the general rule is that favors to particular groups in society do also generate animosity in the other groups, as the recent history of US and India shows.

A Network of Movements and a New Type of Party

Foran's concluding idea is: "We may need a combination of both a dense network of movements and a totally new type of political party to achieve anything like deep radical social change "
    This is not a very new idea. I have experienced, participated in, and studied such a combination in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. The result of that study commissioned by the United Nations University (UNU) is a two-volume book, written in English and published by the UNU Press.12 In Germany it began with the state-wide anti-nuclear-energy movement and it was quickly followed by the Citizens' Initiative Movement consisting of hundreds of groups (generally called a citizens' initiative) struggling for a cause or against some project of the state or private economic interests. These included the state-wide Peace Movement and a plethora of smaller and mostly local/regional one-issue one-demand movements for protecting an aspect of the environment. The sum total of the latter kind of movements, which were also very much connected, were also called the Environmental Protection Movement. In the same way there arose the Alternative Movement, Women's Movement etc.etc. And finally, from all these movements, arose the Green Party of Germany (Die Grünen), which at the beginning understood itself as an "anti-party party" and as the "electoral-political arm" of the new social movements mentioned above. These movements mostly have had the same qualities that Foran lists in connection with the modern-day social movements that he wants to bring together in a network. As far as I am informed, such movements arose in most highly industrialized rich countries of Europe and North America.
     The point I want to make here is that these movements, in my objective overall judgment, ultimately failed – except some of the one-issue one-demand movements. They either fizzled out or were co-opted into the system, particularly their leaders. Die Grünen have become a pillar of the current system. (Neither PODEMOS nor SYRIZA are willing to be the electoral-political arm of the ecology movement.) There is no space here to go into the details, and one may disagree with this assessment of mine. But, this is in short my argument, if they had been successful there would not be any need today for a climate justice movement, nor for a cry to protecting the biodiversity of the planet.

My own conclusions

In short, all efforts are doomed to failure unless at first an
honest analysis of the present world situation is made and propagated and unless it is accepted by the majority of those who form opinions and make decisions. Unfortunately, the majority of those whose task it is to make this analysis and propagate it, are cherishing several illusions. I have elaborated this critique in several contributions to the debate, and presented my own analysis of the present world situation in my major writings.13
    So far as the contribution of concerned citizens of the world is concerned, they may organize themselves in a truly ecology movement and not be satisfied with just some environmental improvements (see above for the difference).
    In this connection I may inform the readers that in some countries of Europe a truly ecology movement has begun. It is the
De-Growth Movement. There is also an organization called Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) with branches in many industrial countries. And since without the promise of social justice and without global economic equality no poor person, nor any poor nation, would accept an ecology movement that inevitably entails economic contraction, it is necessary to enlarge the ecology movement to a global eco-socialist movement.

Notes and References


2. Relevant in the present context are the two empirical studies:

Sarkar, Saral (1993) Green-Alternative Politics in West Germany. Vol. I. The New Social Movements. Tokyo: United University Press.
Sarkar, Saral (1994) Green-Alternative Politics in West Germany. Vol. II. The Greens. Tokyo: United University Press.

3. Boulding, Kenneth E. (1966) "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth"

4. See: Meadows, Donella H.; Dennis L. Meadows; and Jörgen Randers (1992) Beyond the Limits, London; P. 100.

5. For this point see my critique of Bill McKibben's and others' calls for a massive World War II like industrial effort to achieve a quick transition to 100% renewable energies:

6. Sarkar, Saral (1999) Eco-Socialism or Eco-Capitalism? A Critical Analysis of Humanity's Fundamental Choices. London: Zed Books. P. 226f.


8. Some of my articles on the subject:

See also the following latest info:

" reports: The climate friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday. Indeed, by some calculations, the so-called “break-even point” between dirty energy input and clean output may already have arrived, researchers in the Netherlands reported."
    On this Euan Mearns commented: "The numbers in the excerpt are quite damning – 40 years of PV development and it seems that we only now got the first net energy to society."

Susan Chiradec: Feminism Lost. Now What?

10. Let me here state clearly that I am not calling upon the indigenous people to withdraw from e.g. the Amazonas or the rain forests of Indonesia. Their ancestors did not encroach upon these territories in the recent centuries. These constitute their home since time immemorial.

11. On this issue see:

"When Jai Bhim meets Lal Salaam"

12. See note 2.

13. See : Sarkar 1999 (note 6) and

Sarkar, Saral (2012) The Crises of Capitalism. A Different Study of Political Economy. Berkeley : Counterpoint.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Trump's Victory -- What It Says to Us, What It Makes Me Think

Trump has won, despite everything. I think Americans must now stop demonstrating against a democratically legitimated result and stop shouting childish slogans like "Not our President". We must understand the phenomenon, now, if we are to do something about it in future.
   I shall not here try to narrate and analyze the small details of the contest, what kind of people voted Trump etc. Most probably, traditional Republican voters voted Trump, and traditional Democratc voters voted Hillary. The more interesting question is: why did many of those who in the past regularly voted Democratic candidates and Obama in the last two elections this time voted Trump? Nor shall I go into the minor and superficial causes of Trump's victory and Hilary's defeat. I shall rather focus on some basic points and causes of some basic trends that had been clearly noticeable for quite a few years now, almost everywhere – in the USA and parts of Europe, but also in Asia and Latin America (Africa is quite a different category). They are (1) failure and retreat of what is generally called "leftist, democratic, progressive, liberal and egalitarian" forces and policies, and (2) simultaneous ascendancy of what is generally called "conservative, reactionary, nationalistic, authoritarian and anti-egalitarian" forces and policies. I cannot here critically examine all these terms. Let us take them in their currently usual meanings. Examples for these trends are not hard to find. In shorthand: France (decline of PS, rise of Front National), Holland (Gerd Wilder's party), Germany (decline of SPD, rise of AFD), Brexit, ruling parties in Poland, Hungary etc, rise of Islamist forces in Arab and Muslim majority countries, rise of Hindu nationalist forces in India (PM Modi), the Philippines (President Dutarte's murderous anti-drugs policy), impeachment of Labor Party President Dilma Roussef in Brasil etc.

Things Are Changing Fast – Minority In Their Own country

Ever since Trump's victory was announced, the melody of a famous German song written by Bert Brecht is continuously going through my head. In my English translation it reads as follows:1

At the bottom of the Moldau, the pebbles are rolling
There lie three Kaisers buried in Prag.
The great remain not great, and the small not small,
The night lasts twelve hours, then the day does come.

The times change, the great plans of the Powerful
Come to a halt. And even though
They proceed like bloody cocks,
The times do change, no violence can that stop.

Brecht was a communist. When he wrote this on the inevitability of times changing, he surely meant to say (at least this is my interpretation) the bad days of the Kaisers (the capitalist bosses) will soon be over and better days for the small people (the working class) will come.
    But Brecht died in 1956 and communism/socialism was wound up by communists/socialists themselves in 1989. So why am I quoting this song today? Because deep down, away from the superficial hustle and bustle of daily politics, things have still been moving, though most people have been too busy to note that at the moment. Because, in other words, in 1989, history did not after all come to an end2, when the big bosses thought they had won the cold war once and for all.
    I recently  read an article by Robert P. Jones in the online New York Times3 in which the author, while trying to explain the result of the election, cited the (for me) astounding fact that

"between Barack Obama’s 2008 election and 2016, America has transformed from being a majority white Christian nation (54 percent) to a minority white Christian nation (43 percent)." On election day, "this anxious minority swarmed to the polls to elect as president the candidate who promised to 'make America great again' and warned that he was its 'last chance' to turn back the tide of cultural and economic change."

Let me here also quote a promise that Trump had made to his followers: "The forgotten men and women of America will not be forgotten anymore." This quote (partly also the previous one) refers to those once proud skilled working class whites, generally called in the USA the middle class, who in the wake of the financial crisis and the subsequent Great Recession of 2008ff had lost their houses and savings, many of whom were literally rendered homeless paupers. It also refers to those who had lost their jobs in the wake of the large-scale closure of manufacturing enterprises or their relocation in Mexico, China, South East Asia etc. These working-class white Christian people plus the blacks and Latinos, at least the majority of them, were formerly voters of the Democratic Party. This time, these millions of losers of neo-liberal globalization voted in large numbers for Trump, the anti-establishment candidate, because they have been feeling betrayed, left out, without any hope of regaining any time soon their lost status and self-esteem, simply forgotten by the elites and the two established parties. About a week after the election, toward explaining its result, Berni Sanders said: while Trump recognized that there are millions of people today – working-class people, middle-class people, low-income people – who are living in despair and turning to alcohol, drugs and suicide, the Democrats did not.4  Hilary Clinton had even called them a "basket of deplorables", so that a leftist author called Trump's victory the "Revenge of the Deplorables"4 Remember also that during this same process, the rich, called in American political jargon "the one percent", became enormously richer.
    This hugely negative economic change would have sufficed to understand the rage of the Trump voters. But simultaneously also taking place has been what Jones calls a tide of cultural change. Actually, it is more a radical change in the ethnic composition of the American population. Culturally, the Blacks and the Latinos are not much different from working-class white Christians. All Latinos and the vast majority of the Blacks are also Christians. All Blacks and most Latinos, except the newcomers, speak averagely good American English. Moreover, Spanish is a European language like English, and all new-comer Latinos and Blacks are eager to learn English. All want to and are eagerly trying to integrate themselves into the American labor force. But still, because they look different, come from non-European and, what is more important, poorer regions of the world, and are late-comers, they cannot feel and also are not regarded as belonging to the ethnic group5 comprising the progenies of the early and not so early white settlers and recent white European immigrants in North America. The latter ethnic group has been thinking for about 240 years now that the USA is their country. There is no denying, however, that for many of them, especially white and devout Christians, it has also been culturally shocking that Blacks and LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) were so vociferously claiming and even occupying normal to prominent places in society.
    White Americans already had difficulty in socially integrating the freed black slaves and their descendants, when, several decades ago, not only large numbers of Latinos, but also people from many other
non-European regions and belonging to different ethnic and religious-cultural groups began immigrating in the USAAsians, Arabs, Persians, Africans etc. Most of them came legally. They also got the Green Card (work permit). The almost continuously growing US economy needed their labor power and their intelligence, and their contributions to building up the prosperity and power of the USA was appreciated. Racial segregation was formally (though not in reality) ended. People started calling the USA a great melting pot. But not for long. Economic crises became more frequent. Racial conflicts and violent race riots appeared in American towns and cities. And then neo-liberal globalization wreaked havoc in the economy and social structure of the country. Now the White Christians have already become a minority in their own country. They are now increasingly feeling they are losing their country.

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

For several years now, successive governments of the USA have been trying to deport the 11 million illegal Latino immigrants. There cannot be any economic reason for that, because unlike in the EU, almost all illegal immigrants in the USA are working in the economy, which needs these cheap unskilled laborers for bad jobs that white skilled workers do not generally want to take. They are also not demanding, nor will they get, any help from the state. Maybe it is part of the last-ditch attempt by the white-Christians to prevent further erosion of their power and numerical strength in their own country. But apart from those who are caught while crossing the border, it is very difficult to do.
    It is well known that, generally speaking, in times of economic crisis xenophobia increases. The disadvantaged locals look for weak scapegoats for their perceived sufferings. They cannot attack the capitalists or their political agents, who govern the country, but they can attack the immigrants who came from relatively poor countries in large numbers to work and make money here. This has been taking place in the UK before and after the Brexit referendum, where even Polish legal immigrants – white, Christian, and EU-citizens – are being attacked and sought to be driven out of the UK. This is also taking place in Germany in the wake of the large-scale forced entry of non-European non-white asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. The "disadvantaged" locals want to "take their country back". In the UK, the pro-Brexit voters believed they already had lost their country. A German extreme rightist politician said in a speech (in my free translation): "If the Afghan immigrants are deported, they have a country to go back to. But if we lose our country, we have nowhere to go." German authorities know how difficult it is to deport an illegal immigrant. They cannot any more deport all. It is too late. In the USA, large sections of the White Christian working class feel they have already lost "their country" and also their economic basis. Jones, who has recently published a book on the subject,6 thinks the overwhelming support that Trump received from the White Christian working class voters is the expression of rage of this group of Americans against their plight.  He concludes his article with the words: "The waning numbers of white Christians in the country today may not have time on their side, but as the sun is slowly setting on the cultural world of white Christian America, they’ve managed, at least in this election, to rage against the dying of the light."7

The contradictions of Globalization

The two changes mentioned above – economic and ethnic/cultural – are interconnected through both being results of the process of economic globalization: It is this that resulted in the forced or voluntary immigration of hundreds of millions of non-white and non-Christian people in the USA as well as the large-scale relocation of American industries and other businesses in other countries. Ricardo's theory of free international trade was based on the justifiable assumption that everybody, every businessman and every nation desires to become as rich as possible. He showed, in my opinion convincingly at the abstract theory level, that all nations participating in free international trade would prosper (a win-win deal, as we say today) if they concentrate on producing and selling at the world market not only those goods in which they have an absolute advantage but also those in which they have what he called a "comparative advantage". That is roughly also what happened in the economic history of the world: participating nations did prosper. But it has not proved to be an unmitigated benefit for all in all nations That is why we see that for many years now, all over the world, there has been a lot of
dissatisfaction with and opposition to further development of free international trade, that is since long also coupled with further development of free flow of investment capital from one country to another. The most well-known examples thereof are the protest movements against multilateral and bilateral trade agreements such as NAFTA, MAI, CETA, TPP, and TTIP.8     Nobody can say that this opposition has been totally unjustified. To explain it in one sentence, the assertion of the protagonists of free international trade and investment that "when the flood tide comes, it lifts all boats" has proved to be wrong. Because not all citizens of a nation sit in a boat, and not all nations possess an ocean-going boat. What I mean to say thereby is that a part of the population of a nation and many nations of the world can be and have indeed been left behind and forgotten in the process of global economic development. Especially this section of the US-American population – the proletariat of the "rust belt" of America for example – chose Trump as their leader, particularly because he promised to role back the (in their eyes) evil tide of economic globalization.
    It is a more
fundamental rejection of economic globalization than what I have heard (and read) from the anti-CETA and anti-TTIP movement´s of European environmentalists, leftists, Attac-activists etc. Most of the better known points of the latter's criticism of these proposed trade agreements are so insignificant that they could easily be invalidated by small concessions. That also happened in the case of CETA, when the German and Canadian Economy Ministers made some concessions in the face of strong opposition to it. In contrast, the main argument of the millions of US-American victims of globalization (the unemployed and now unemployable) has been that they have lost the very source of their livelihood, the manufacturing industries, without any chance of getting an equivalent alternative one. That is why they and their leader Trump are for protectionism.
    This explains another difference. In Germany, where I live, (maybe also in the other highly developed EU-countries) the great majority of the leftist and environmentalist opponents of globalization have consistently refused to call their movement an
anti-globalization one. They assert theirs is only a globalization-critical movement. They want to say thereby that they do not deny that there are economic advantages of this process, for all concerned parties. Their opposition to the various proposed international trade agreements has therefore never been fundamental.
    I have found very little sensitivity among such merely critical activists to some real and
more serious issues associated with economic globalization. They are as follows:
    (1) It
divides the working class of the world more effectively than anything that the bourgeoisie could think up before. When a manufacturing unit is shut down in Pennsylvania and relocated in Mexico, several hundred American workers lose their livelihood, but in Mexico several hundred hitherto unemployed workers got these jobs, albeit with less wages. When, in the 1990s, Siemens decided to close down their cell phone production factory in Bochum and relocate it in Hungary, the German workers bitterly fought to defend their jobs. They were even ready to accept wage cuts. But they ultimately failed. At a meeting held in solidarity with these German workers I raised the question: what should the Left say to the unemployed Hungarian workers who were eagerly waiting to get these jobs? The answer I got from a local left leader was simply: "Workers must fight to defend every job." That was all.
    (2) As we have now seen, it even gives rise to
animosities between ethnic groups of people who become competitors for jobs in one and the same proposed factories and other economic opportunities. Such competition, of course, exists even between cities in one and the same country (e.g. in Germany, where it is called Standortwettbewerb). But it never becomes ethnic animosity. If factories and businesses cannot or do not want to leave developed countries in favor of those poor countries that at the moment do not have any comparative advantage other than lowest wages, or if the latter are not enough to strongly attract international capital (the majority of the sub-Saharan African countries, for example), then the masses of poor and/or unemployed people of these countries simply migrate, legally or illegally, into the more prosperous countries and regions. In the Republic of South Africa, this recently led to ethnic riots (2015) between workers who are citizens of the RSA and the legal or illegal immigrant workers from the other African countries, all blacks, mind you. The story of unwelcome illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East into the EU and physical attacks on them are well known.
    (3) Competition between states to attract investments leads inter alia to
downward pressure on wages, social benefits, and other conditions of work, in short, to a race to the bottom. Mr. Lafontaine, a leading German politician once said (roughly): "In the matter of wages, we simply cannot win the rat race against China"
    (4) Globalization facilitates
tchnological development, the secret of increase in labor productivity, and that leads, through concomitant growth in automation, to further unemployment.
    (5) Since most technological developments are resource-intensive, they ipso facto cause more
environmental degradation.

Contradictions of Trump's Anti-Globalization Program

Actually, all critics and opponents of globalization should now be rejoicing. After all, Trump has announced he would withdraw the US signature from the TPP and renegotiate the NAFTA. And the TTIP is now dead. I too rejoiced at this prospect, but for
reasons different from those that motivated Trump and his supporters to oppose these. Trump wants to "make America great again", not I. What does "great" mean in this context?
    If the American manufacturing sector revives, well, then probably many new jobs will be created in it, and many more goods would be supplied to the American economy by America-based companies and less goods of similar kinds would be imported, say, from China, India or Bangladesh. But American workers would not work for Bangladeshi wages. That is not what they voted Trump for. Prices of goods made in the USA would rise. Wouldn't American consumers, including working class ones, miss the damn cheap goods made in China? Wouldn't American industries, though revived, soon lose competitiveness at the world market?
Protectionism has a downside too. This surely would lead to a strong shrinking of the American economy and its national income as well as that of the whole world. Would America then still be able to maintain its hundreds of military bases all around the world and its huge weaponry, the basis of its military greatness? He surely does not mean any kind of spiritual or cultural greatness! Or does he?
    What is worse, a chain of retaliatory measures of other manufacturing countries – increasing import duties and competitive devaluation of the national currencies – would surely follow. Economic historians know how in the early 1930s, exactly such measures led to a deepening of the Great Depression. Certainly, a similar situation today would not be welcome to Trump and his admirers. That would not make America great again.
    And poverty would return to those formerly poor countries that had seen a little prosperity by exporting simple goods like clothing to rich industrial countries. I would not here take up the question what had made America great in the past? That is another topic. I would however like to see whether in the coming years, in such a situation, the USA would be able to become "great" again.
    It is a pity that the leadership of the
radical anti-globalization movement had to come from a Trump who is a racist and a petty white American nationalist (America First). But those who have been leading the globalization-critical movement refused to accept the fundamental reason why one should oppose economic globalization. They raised relatively minor objections to the various new agreement proposals, not the fundamental one. If we look at the most important arguments of their protagonists – business leaders and economy ministers – they can be reduced to just two sentences: (1) today, economic growth is not only good but also essential for the health of the economy and society, globally as well as for each particular nation (it generates profits and also jobs and income), and (2) the more we liberalize international trade and remove the various barriers to it, the more growth can be achieved. But if we reject the growth imperative from the calculation, their arguments lose all value. The leaders of the globalization-critical movements refused to do that. Those, however, who have understood the general global environmental crisis, and the climate crisis in particular, should (1) oppose any- and everything that promotes global economic growth; they should demand that the growth imperative be replaced by a stop growth imperative; they should (2) oppose any further labor-saving technological development, and (3) for the long-term, they should advocate a policy of planned contraction (de-growth) of all overdeveloped economies, and, simultaneously, a planned reduction of the global human population.
    Economic contraction is not the conscious purpose of Trump's anti-globalization program. But if we have a little good luck, it might,
by a roundabout route,
serve our purposes. Trump would then, after eight years, be remembered (and lauded) for having brought about a much needed worldwide economic contraction that would do good to our biosphere. At first he would of course be cursed by all but a few radical environmentalists, but he would later be remembered as

"A part of a part of that power that always
The evil wills, and yet the good achieves."9

    Similarly, by enforcing the deportation of a part of the 11 million illegal immigrants from South America, he might force the ruling elites of the subcontinent to adopt policies that would encourage and enable people to stay in their native countries. Such policies might include reversing the pro-globalization policies of the past decades, which, as we know, largely caused and hugely facilitated unwanted migration in other countries. That might also globally have a positive effect. Again, he would be cursed at first, but future presidents and prime ministers of other countries would laud him for having unwittingly taken the initiative for a real solution to the vexed worldwide refugee-immigrant problem.

Blind Alley of Identity Politics

Hillary Clinton's defeat by such a bad candidate like Trump is another proof of the negative value of identity politics. In the good days of the recent past, when the promise of prosperity for all within the capitalist framework remained plausible, it did no harm that other issues took priority over basic left, i.e., generally speaking, anti-capitalist and egalitarian, politics.
Leftists and progressives in the USA appeared to concentrate on issues like political human rights in distant countries, civil rights of the Afro-Americans, rights of native Indians and Latino immigrants, positive discrimination (affirmative action) and special rights for women, LGBT groups, ethnic groups etc. At times, it appeared as if such an exotic issue like same-sex marriage was more important to them than the election of the next President. The Democratic Party, which until recently collected all votes of leftist and progressive people, was, under President Clinton, allowed to change course in favor of a fully neoliberal-globalized capitalism.
    But then the big crisis came in 2008 and it is continuing. The economic and ecological world situation demanded most urgent attention to substantial political-economic questions. But Berni Sanders, who offered this change in priority, was rejected as the Democratic Party candidate. Many American women's main argument for selecting Hillary was that, after a black President, it was now a woman's turn to be President. One female stalwart of recent American politics, Madame Albright, threatened those American women who would not support Hillary with the pronouncement that they would land in hell (Maybe she did not really mean it literally). A famous feminist, Gloria Steinem, accused young women who were supporting Berni Sanders of not having the ability to think for themselves and supporting Sanders only because their boy-friends were doing so (she later apologized). This argument – it is now a woman's turn – was put at the top, although it was known that Hillary was the candidate of Wall Street, that she was a very belligerent hawk in US politics, and that, if elected President, she would cause further escalation of the war in Syria.
    Identity politics is the
bane of all universal and substantial politics, especially of left and ecological politics. For its adherents, to look after the particular interests of their own identity group is the most important goal, fighting for and defending those interests is the primary task. Interests of the whole humanity, or even of the nation, are only secondary matters for them. It is divisive, and it corrodes all unity against capitalism. What is good in many Scots saying they are Scots, not British, and they cannot and do not want to live with the Brits in the same state? What is good in the Catalans' efforts to achieve a separate state of their own because they do not want to share their wealth with the other ethnic groups?10 It is not that they are somehow being discriminated against in their current united polity, in which case they would have some justification for demanding separation. All these separatist movements distract the people from the real and most urgent problems of mankind.
    In India, Dalits11 indeed suffer de facto discrimination in Hindu society. But instead of trying to make a united front with progressive people of the other sections of the Indian population for
overcoming the caste system, their movement has in reality become one for perpetuating the system. For, years ago, they succeeded in getting laws passed that guarantee them a certain percentage of government jobs and seats in universities and other institutions. In a country like India, where both good jobs and good educational opportunities are in short supply, the beneficiaries of such privileges would never desire to abolish the privilege of belonging to the officially attested Dalit castes. This politics has done more harm than good. It has generated more conflicts among people at large. Identity groups are today fighting other identity groups.

Conclusion: Social Entropy

Seen globally, one can today safely generalize that the six decades long effort to bring development, prosperity, modernization, Enlightenment and democracy in the whole world has failed. On the same path, there is little hope of a better future, except for a few fortunate ones. Even
in Germany, where the economic and social situation is among the best in the highly developed countries, pessimism is spreading among discerning people. Most recently, Oliver Nachtwey, a researcher on the state of German society, described Germany as a society in fear of decline (Abstiegsgesellschaft).12 There, even skilled workers cannot hope any more that their children would have a better life than they had, even university students cannot be sure they would have a secure and well-paid job after graduation. The good days are over and will certainly not come back any more That must also be the basic reason why also the social climate in Germany has become harsher. According to a latest official report, the incidence of politically motivated crime has sharply increased. It states inter alia that in 2016 every second respondent said that because of the Muslims he feels "like a foreigner in his own country"; 41 percent of the respondents said that Muslims must not be allowed to immigrate into Germany.13 Sandra Navidi, an insider of the global finance market, shows in her book Super Hubs14 that, actually, it is not the elected politicians, but the very well connected finance elites of the world (like e.g. George Soros and Wall Street bankers) who rule over the world economy. She said in a TV interview that even the super-rich are nowadays fearing the backlash, that they are on the look out for safe havens where they could flee to in the event of a big crisis.
    It has become clear to most honest observers that things will not become better under the present system. They have become conscious that a sort of
social entropy is at work. In the EU one is more and more talking of a centrifugal force that is working against the union. Politically conscious people are saying everywhere: we need an alternative; activists are saying they are searching for an alternative to this system. But till now no alternative has emerged, that has convinced the majority of citizens in any country. Only several ideas are circulating, many of which are mere illusions based on expectations of technological miracles.
    I would here like to submit an
impossibility theorem, which I formulated in an earlier blog as follows: It is impossible to fulfill the continuously growing demands, wishes, aspirations and ambitions of a continuously growing world population, while our resource base is continuously dwindling and the ability of nature to absorb man-made pollution is continuously diminishing. It is a lunatic idea that in a finite world infinite growth is possible.15  Mass discontent is therefore bound to continuously rise.
    In this situation, large masses of deprived and frustrated citizens of the rich countries are not looking forward to a better future in a democratic-leftist or eco-technological utopia; they are
looking backward to a nationalist-rightist solution to their problems. That is how "populist" figures like Trump are getting elected. And in Europe, such possibilities are growing.
    Actually, far-sighted and discerning observers of world affairs could foresee such a development. About 20 years ago, when the great East Asian crisis16 had broken out and was ruining the economies and societies of that region, John Gray17 wrote:

“The regime of laissez-faire [he used this term to mean neo-liberal globalization] is bound to trigger counter-movements which reject its constraints. Such movements – whether populist and xenophobic, fundamentalist or neo-communist – can achieve few of their goals; but they can still rattle to pieces the brittle structures that support global laissez-faire.” (P. 20)

And Gorge Soros,18 the arch speculator, who himself profited enormously from this system, feared that “elections in Indonesia could well produce a nationalistic, Islamic government inspired by Mahatir's [Prime Minister of Malaysia] ideas" (P. 133). He believed he could “already discern the makings of the final crisis". He wrote:

"It will be political in character. Indigenous political movements are likely to arise that will seek to expropriate the multinational corporations and 'recapture' the national wealth. Some of them may succeed … . Their success may then shake the confidence of the financial markets, engendering a self-reinforcing process on the downside. Whether it will happen on this occasion or the next one is an open question." (P. 134)

Even an US-American leftist professor could foresee the rise of such a person like Trump. Richard Rorty wrote in 1997:

"One day, there will be a rift in America. A considerable part of the voters will come to the conclusion that the 'system' has failed, and they will look for a strong man whom they could elect. He will assure them that after he is elected the dirty bureaucrats, shady lawyers, overpaid fund managers, and postmodern professors would have nothing more to say. Once such a strongman is elected, nobody would be able to say what would happen. In 1932, the predictions that were made on what would happen if Hindenburg would make Hitler the Chancellor proved to be incredibly optimistic." (retranslated from a German translation)*19

I have expounded my conception of the final crisis of capitalism in my two theoretical books,20  in which I have also dealt with the question what we should and could do in the present situation of the world. It is a very difficult question. It must be addressed, but I think I should finish this essay here with the words: we must prepare ourselves for the worst and try to do our best. That's all.

Notes and References

1. The first two lines of the original German text reads as follows:

"Am Grunde der Moldau wandern die Steine
es liegen drei Kaiser begraben in Prag.

2. This is an allusion to philosopher Francis Fukuyama's theoretical claim that with the fall of the socialist system "history" had come to an end

. Jones, Robert P "The Rage of White, Christian America", NOV. 10, 2016

4. Scheer, Robert: "
Revenge of the ‘Deplorables’ " in Truthdig online, Nov 9, 2016

5. For understanding the terms ethnicity and ethnic group, see
Weber, Max (…) "The Concept of Ethnicity"; and

Smith, Anthony D. (…) "Structure and Persistence of Ethnie";

both in:

Guibernau, Montserrat, and Rex, John (eds.) (1997) The Ethnicity Reader. Cambridge, UK:
Polity Press.

6. Jones, Robert P. (2016): The End of White Christian America. (The USA …).

7. See note 3. Jones here uses a line of a famous song of Dylan Thomas.

8. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is an agreement signed by
Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America.
MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) was a proposed investment agreement among OECD states. Negotiations on it was begun in 1997 and dropped in 1998.
(Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is a tentative
free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
TPP (Transpacific Partnership) is a tentative free trade agreement between the littoral states of the Pacific Ocean.
TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is a proposed
trade agreement between the European Union and the United States.

9. Mephisto's self-introduction in Goethe's Faust I. Sarkar's translation.

10. See my blog (2014)
Unity Or Separation? -- Did The Scots decide Sensibly?

11. Dalits is the collective term used in India for all castes of the lowest rung in Hindu society. All Indian aborigines are generally included in this term.

12. Nachtwey, Oliver (2016) Abstiegsgesellschaft.
Berlin: Suhrkamp.

13. Integrationsbericht 2016 (as reported in Kölner Stadtanzeiger)

14. Navidi, Sandra (2016) Super-Hubs–Wie die Finanzelite und ihre Netzwerke die Welt regieren. Verlag FBV bei Amazon.

15. Sarkar, Saral (2016) A Historic Event or a Fraud? -- Critical Thoughts on the Paris Climate Accord.

16. see my book The Crises of Capitalism (see note 20)

17. Gray, John (1999) False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism. London: Granta.

18. Soros, George (1998) The Crisis of Global Capitalism. London: Little, Brown.

19. Rorty, Richard (1997) Achieving Our Country. The quote here is taken and retranslated from:

Lepenies, Wolf (2016) "
US-Philosoph sah schon 1997 das Szenario Trump voraus."
DIE WELT . 8.11.2016

20. Sarkar, Saral (1999) Eco-Socialism or Eco-Capitalism? A Critical Analysis of Humanity's Fundamental Choices. London: Zed Books.

Sarkar, Saral (2012) The Crises of Capitalism. A Different Study of Political Economy. Berkeley: Counterpoint.