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John Passant

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October 2010



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Engels on nature and humans

I was thinking about the concept of metabolic rift that John Bellamy Foster has developed and found something from Engels on humanity’s relationship to nature.

I wonder about the idea of mastery. Certainly his comments before that imply not a concept of mastery over nature, but,as he says at the end, ‘our mastery of it [nature – JP] consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.

What do you think?


Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. When the Italians of the Alps used up the pine forests on the southern slopes, so carefully cherished on the northern slopes, they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting at the roots of the dairy industry in their region; they had still less inkling that they were thereby depriving their mountain springs of water for the greater part of the year, and making it possible for them to pour still more furious torrents on the plains during the rainy seasons. Those who spread the potato in Europe were not aware that with these farinaceous tubers they were at the same time spreading scrofula. Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature – but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.

Engels, The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man (1876)



Comment from Auntie Rhoberta
Time October 30, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Nature to be commanded must be obeyed (Bacon); but we do not command but are instead ‘nature getting to know itself’. We needn’t even be confined to this planet — unless we stick to global capitalism, in which case we will have a fine cemetery plot.

Comment from Shane H
Time October 31, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I think these comments are a high point. The Green movement has sent Marxists back to their texts which is great. Re-reading ‘Capital’ its clear how concerned it is about what we call the environment. Its a pity the record of Marxist regimes don’t, as a rule, reflect the same awareness.

Comment from John
Time November 1, 2010 at 4:31 am

Thanks Shane. Have you read John Bellamy Foster’s Marx’s Ecology? He argues that the relationship between humanity and nature was at the core of Marx’s thinking. As to the ‘Marxist’ regimes, as you would know my analysis is they were state capitalist and their concern is the creation of surplus value, not the environment. the same really as their counterparts in the West.

Comment from Ben Courtice
Time November 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm

‘Marx’s Ecology’ is a great work of scholarship. I enjoyed it immensely. However, for left ecologists, going back to Barry Commoner’s classic “The Closing Circle” is essential. I consider this book to be the “Das Kapital” of modern ecology.

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