MICHAEL K SMITH—Abbey called himself a racist in Confessions of a Barbarian, though he defined the term as an aversion to being dominated by a race to which one did not belong, which definition would render nearly all of humanity “racist”: “Am I a racist? I guess I am. I certainly do not wish to live in a society dominated by blacks, or Mexicans, or Orientals. Look at Africa, at Mexico, at Asia.” Abbey was aware of the contributions of Western colonialism and imperialism to the widespread misery found in those regions, but argued it was but “Western guilt neurosis” to assign primacy to them in accounting for Third World conditions in the late twentieth century.
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Modernization has been a dream of China’s for a century. After the Great Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government joined most developing countries in treating modernization as its goal. China’s achievements on this path, such as its fast GDP growth, have amazed the world. However, the price has been extremely high, including environmental problems, an increasing gap between the rich and the poor, and growing disenchantment with growth within the populace as a whole. Is there any alternative to the current form of modernization? “Constructive postmodern thinking proposes such an alternative.”81 Kang Ouyang, a leading Marxist scholar in China and vice president of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, has explored the positive and negative sides of modernization. For him the negative includes: treating economic growth as the ultimate goal; neglecting ecology, the value of tradition, and aesthetic wisdom as complements to scientific knowledge; rejection of the positive role that religion can play in human life; and overemphasis on individuality at the expense of community.
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Since the Industrial Revolution, the techniques of advanced production have spread to every country of the globe. All countries contribute to the production of greenhouse gases and deforestation, which are the main drivers of climate change. As a result, any effort to halt rising worldwide temperatures must be inherently international to have any chance of success. Despite the claims of Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and their allies, no reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within the borders of the United States would bring a halt to rising worldwide temperatures.
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For Marx, the narrow pursuit of value-based accumulation, through the “robbery” of the earth itself, at the expense of “eternal natural necessity,” generated a metabolic rift in the relation between human society and the larger natural world of which it was an emergent part.8Coupled with the related class contradictions of capitalism, these conditions pointed to the need for the expropriation of the expropriators.