19th May, 2017
Green Revolutions? - Stream at the Historical Materialism Annual Conference
Deadline for abstracts EXTENDED: 31 May 2017
***PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS THE LAST EXTENSION. THERE WILL BE NO OTHERS***
HISTORICAL MATERIALISM 2017 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Revolutions Against Capital, Capital Against Revolutions?
Central London, 9-12 November 2017
At the height of the Russian civil war, Bolsheviks from the besieged town of Astrakhan reached Moscow and appealed to Lenin to approve their plans for a nature reserve in the delta of the Volga, which he did, explaining that 'conservation of nature is of importance to the entire Republic; I attach urgent significance to it. Let it be declared a national necessity and appreciated by the scale of nation-wide importance.' One century later, the significance of conserving nature is no less urgent. The centenary of the Russian Revolution should prompt renewed, closer reflections on the relation between the revolutionary Marxist legacy and ecological struggles, including its historical parameters. How green were the Bolsheviks? Still only assembled in fragments, what lessons can be learned from the efflorescence of environmental science and politics between October and the onset of Stalinist industrialisation? Was adoration of modern technology and Promethean domination of nature inherent in the Soviet Union from the start, or were there other paths not taken? How did the fate of the revolution determine the trajectory of ecological thought within the working-class movement?
Ecological Marxism is by now a well-established current of research, but it sometimes falls into the trap of academic theorising, with little connection to Marxist politics. Can there be an ecological Leninism (or Luxemburgism, or autonomism, or Maoism...)? What are the most promising tendencies in environmental movements around the world today? Does Marxist thought have anything to offer activists on the frontlines, from Standing Rock via the divestment campaigns to the struggle against new coal-power plants in Bangladesh? The ecological emergencies of the twenty-first century seem to call for extraordinary measures to maintain a habitable biosphere. What would they look like? In the increasingly dangerous climate of 2017, however, neither red nor green forces dominate the political agenda – instead, the centenary comes with a worldwide surge in brown-tinged reactionary nationalism. From the United States via Poland to India, this ascendant right is waging a general onslaught on what remains of wild nature, denying climate change, speeding up the production of fossil fuels and, apparently, synthesising aggression against the environment with attacks on undesirable others. This conjuncture has yet to be met with a consistent analysis – and response – from the radical left.
The ecology stream at the HM annual conference of 2017 in London invites papers and panels on the above and related themes, in the entire field of environmental theory and politics as practiced through the lens of Marxism.