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Review of Joel Kovel's book "The Enemy of Nature" (Zed Books, 2002)

Review of Joel Kovel's book "The Enemy of Nature" (Zed Books, 2002) by a Green Party activist
From the November 2002 issue of News & Letters

Toward a dialectical humanist ecology

by Joe Swoboda

There are a number of reasons why I am excited by the release of Joel Kovel's new book THE ENEMY OF NATURE. The first stems from my long-held belief that Marx's humanism contains an implicit (if not explicit) ecological dimension. Shortly after my "'conversion"' to Marxist-Humanism in the late 1980s, which was largely the result of my reading Marx's 1844 ECONOMIC AND PHILOSOPHIC MANUSCRIPTS, it occurred to me that though Marx had done a wonderful job of describing man's/woman's alienation from his/her labor, from the product of his/her labor and from other men and women under capitalism, Marx had hinted at, but did not develop, the theory of alienation as it related to the splitting of men/women from this thing we have come to call "Nature."

I felt the 1844 MANUSCRIPTS (and other of Marx's most important works) were ripe for an ecological interpretation. I feel Kovel has finally taken up this project, and I would argue that chapters 3, 5 and 6 of THE ENEMY OF NATURE are the best attempts at connecting Marx's humanism with an ecological vision.

My second interest in Kovel's book derives from my hope that it might provide some philosophic vision to the green movement. Like Kovel, I am a member of the green movement and the Green Party. I joined the Green Party in the Summer of 2001 because I saw that many young people and people who had not otherwise been involved in left activism were being drawn to this new political movement. When I discovered there was a Green Party local active in the Latino immigrant community in which I live, I was also excited by the potential for community-based organizing around issues like housing, gentrification, and immigrants rights.

However I joined with strong reservations. Most prominent among them was my awareness that the Green Party was a reformist organization aimed at working mostly within the confines of the established political process and was therefore self-limiting. I was well aware of the fact that the Green Party could easily become as much a part of the problem as had European social democracy, especially without a more revolutionary vision. This had already happened with the Greens in Europe.

Read the whole review at the URL below



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