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I've been writing diaries here as a matter of praxis, that is, bringing theory and practice together as dialectically critical action, this is yet another attempt to make the somewhat odious task of understanding the core of marxist thought and applying it to coherent contemporary circumstance. This example shows the fundamental problem in taking an oppositional stance to capitalism as anti-capitalist thinking, how to discuss the alternatives as types of post-capitalism, and what comes afterward in terms of development. One first must understand the materialist approach to history and see capitalism's place. Human development as cultural/social development laid upon nature's development is always sets of uneven development even in terms of the prehistoric, knowing that many different versions of humanoids did at some moments live in parallel, some evolving to survive and others not, in a godless ecological struggle. Similarly uneven development exists for each of the historical stages of human social/economic development often described as Modes of production and the Five stages of history. Where it can get complicated is specifying the forces of production.

History can be described as divided into these stages
2.1 Primitive Communism
2.2 Slave Society
2.3 Feudalism
2.4 Capitalism
2.5 Socialism
2.6 Communism

We can still see echoes of more primitive relations even today in the informal economies of barter as forms of primitive communism and the indentured labor of some immigrant labor whether in this country or others. Enslavement exists in many forms in these uneven developments whether as actual human ownership in sex traffic or wage slavery as in globalized mass-market, corporately-owned consumer industries. Socialism or collective ownership of the means and forces of production has been achieved at various historical moments with varied success and failure and always exists as a non-totality in that other historical stages have and continue to exist in an uneven relationship and in various evolutionary forms.

This diary's example will be of necessity a schematic version applied to the current situation of wind energy production in the United States signifying those uneven stages of historical development

The economy in which these modal stages are situated have three moments: production circulation consumption, which as a circuit reproduces itself. that is. each consuming moment induces a new, subsequent producing moment, much like the dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis producing a new thesis.

Writers who identify with historical materialism usually postulate that society has moved through a number of types or modes of production. That is, the character of the production relations is determined by the character of the productive forces; these could be the simple tools and instruments of early human existence, or the more developed machinery and technology of present age. The main modes of production Marx identified generally include primitive communism or tribal society (a prehistoric stage), ancient society, feudalism, and capitalism. In each of these social stages, people interact with nature and produce their living in different ways. Any surplus from that production is allotted in different ways. Ancient society was based on a ruling class of slave owners and a class of slaves; feudalism was based on landowners and serfs; and capitalism based on the capitalist class and the working class. The capitalist class privately owns the means of production, distribution and exchange (e.g., factories, mines, shops and banks) while the working class live by exchanging their socialized labour with the capitalist class for wages.

In order to apply this to wind power, the task is to project those stages as simply as possible. Wind is basic yet necessarily tied to other natural factors of production in terms of marine or terrestrial environment. It appears greater in various locations yet even those quantities are not consistent even seasonally and as a natural resource are difficult to capitalize upon. More problematic is its availability as seemingly costless, yet also impossible to accumulate in any surplus in its natural form, hence its designation as a common-pool resource. If you put up a windmill you are being a primitive communist until the height or appearance interferes with your neighbors. As you derive power whether as grinding mill, water pump, or electrical generator, you accumulate various types of materially transformed surplus. Its subsequent transformation into "wind capital" comes in the means by which power is produced and its relation to the entire productive circuit. In the mercantile or feudal case of grinding grain or pumping water it comes from being one part of producing other goods, whereas as under capitalism it can be not only an industrialized farm but as in the case of mineral exploitation, speculative contracts auctioned off among capitalists over a very long cycle of manufacturing, siting, and operating. These are of necessity coexisting uneven developments whether you have a single subsistence farm windmill in the Southern Hemisphere or a massive industrial wind farm fueling a national energy grid in the Northern Hemisphere. As has been mentioned here and elsewhere in DK, alternative capital accumulating organizations with a public/social purpose, whether organized cooperatively or collectively continue to emerge with varying success to resist the hegemony of capitalist energy corporations. Just as the development of the Cape Wind turbine farm off the shore of Massachusetts is less about the capital and labor needed for construction or the deconstruction of class narratives about environmental hazard or aesthetic blight, than the fictive capital embodied in auctioned speculative leases and their relation to the corporate energy oligopoly of the New England electricity grid. Unevenness occurs in the scale of such endeavors since the NIMBY-ness of small scale backyard wind turbines ranges from the quaint reproduction of historical windmills to the pathological fear of eyesores, noise, and dead birds.

If the current historical mode is capitalism how are we to get to an inevitable socialism and communism, accepting the unevenness of (r)evolutionary developments. We know that this is a dangerous political area considering the numbers of socialists who went to their deaths in WWII thinking that fascism based on capitalism was supposed to be a momentary detour on the path to global communism. History will still be determining in this aspect but our wind example shows us that as it is not one sole resource that determines self-determination, but a network of common-pool resources whose ownership must be collectively public. Public utility corporations are by their very lexicon, oxymoronic and the success of European wind farms in the development of national energy policies leads the US by understanding those very property relationships. For example, the ownership of West Texas wind farm fields as property rights or actual infrastructure are dominated by fossil fuel corporations with obvious conflicts in interest and ultimately negative public externalities.

One possible route is to rethink the notion of an exploitable, unrenewable nature and to substitute our human role in its sustainability as the climate change discourse has done. Kovel 2007 on Eco-socialism might be one of the paths forward. But in so many other ways, engaging a variety of discourses is necessary, such as James Morton Turner, “The Specter of Environmentalism”: Wilderness, Environmental Politics, and the Evolution of the New Right Journal of American History, 96 (June 2009), 123–49. In it "The debates over the public lands and environmental politics thus played a supporting role in a central transition in postwar American politics: the decline of liberalism and the rise of modern conservatism.". Understanding the relationship among land, labor and capital in the development of those lands more able to support large scale wind energy production will provide greater insight to those trying to constrain capitalist forces in the name of social equity. This policy discourse arrives at some abstract levels including deconstructing what might be the green problems of advanced technology - those technologies which seem obvious and present versus those that operate in the background but are no less concrete. There are many alternatives, but our self-destruction comes with the wrong policy choices and its subsequent recombination: shale versus solar, wind versus geothermal, tidal versus off-shore drilling. This history of each resource is bound to a less apparent, transmission network infrastructure that constitutes its critically real and material relation to history.

In his 1940 essay "Theses on the Philosophy of History," scholar Walter Benjamin compares historical materialism to The Turk, an 18th Century device which was promoted as a mechanized automaton which could defeat skilled chess players but actually concealed a human who controlled the machine. Benjamin suggested that, despite Marx's claims to scientific objectivity, historical materialism was actually quasi-religious. Like the Turk, wrote Benjamin, "[t]he puppet called 'historical materialism' is always supposed to win. It can do this with no further ado against any opponent, so long as it employs the services of theology, which as everyone knows is small and ugly and must be kept out of sight." Benjamin's friend and colleague Gershom Scholem would argue that Benjamin's critique of historical materialism was so definitive that, as Mark Lilla would write, "nothing remains of historical materialism [...] but the term itself.Mark Lilla, "The Riddle of Walter Benjamin" in The New York Review of Books, May 25, 1995.
History's homunculi in an age of internet cyber-production is never the infrastructure hardware but the larger telecommunication network just as it's not about wind farms as bird culling cuisinarts but some deeper historical questions about a social network of energy industrialization, its scale and ultimately its relation to common-pool resources at this moment in history. We are unevenly related even to small scales of history even as we drive electric, hybrid, and conventional fossil fuel cars near wind farms whose relation to the energy consumption of our vehicles is in its infancy with the connection among energy alternatives. This is the complex image of a putative post-capitalism which we all write collectively.

Wind power & Hydrogen auto fuel cells: http://www.nrel.gov/...


Originally posted to Anti-Capitalist Meetup on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 03:00:14 PM PDT

  •  I also hope we get there (9+ / 0-)

    We could then perhaps evolve and not become extinct.

    The interstate highway system changed America and it was government run.  Some infrastructures are better done this way. The people should decide how to structure this technology implementation. Telecommunications and space exploration come to mind too.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 03:13:15 PM PDT

  •  Tonight's ACM has been reposted at: (7+ / 0-)

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 03:17:09 PM PDT

  •  ACM Schedule (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, JayRaye, caul

    October

    6th:
    13th:
    20th: Geminijen
    27th: EK Hornbeck?

    November

    3rd:
    10th:
    17th:
    24th:

    Comrades, the cupboard is a bit bare! We need some volunteers, especially for the next two weeks. I have obligations to write for someone else and cannot step in. That means that we need some volunteers. Can anyone volunteer to write something? Once we start skipping weeks, we know the series is on its way out. So, please, if you can and want to, step forward. Reply to this comment, send NY brit expat a private message here, send the ACM a message on dkos or write to our group email: dkanticapitalistgroup@gmail.com

    In solidarity,
    NY Brit Expat

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 03:22:25 PM PDT

  •  You did a wonderful job tonight Annieli! (9+ / 0-)

    I think this may be my favourite piece that you wrote. I actually started reading before the comment on reposting as I was interested in what you had written and got pulled in (that is why it appeared a bit late).

    Incredibly important issue which I hope has a good discussion. Yesterday, I presented employment proposals at a conference; I raised 3 things following the line of direct gov't job creation: 1) socialisation of care; 2) green industrial job creation suggested by Sean Thompson and concentrating on energy powering up and down; construction (housing and businesses which save rather than waste energy) and a true linked and integrated public transport system; and 3) development of cooperatives that are vertically linked w/seed money lent by governments and given preferential gov't contracts.

    We either start developing the green industry that we need or we will destroy the planet; we cannot leave this in the hands of the private sector, we can provide jobs if it is done by the state sector. We know it is not socialism, but we can limit the power of finance capital and the private sector if done by the state. Great piece! Thanks!!

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 03:31:06 PM PDT

  •  This is a great diary. (8+ / 0-)

    It's going to take some careful reading over again a few times.

    There are solutions out there to save the planet, but Capitalism stands between us and those solutions.

    Capitalism races on and on, like a Frankenstein monster out of control. Not able to stop itself, burning down the house around itself.

    Sadly, that house is the whole world.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 03:45:55 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for an incredibly sophisticated complex (5+ / 0-)

    analysis. Your efforts to analyze power through a Marxist paradigm is truly awesome. Since it is very compressed and attempts to cover a great variety of concepts in a limited space, I want to take some time to respond. Hope you will be checking back during the week for comments as this might take some time. As Ex Pat knows, I am very particular on what I think specific Marxist concepts mean and how they are applied and I do have some differences with you interpretation.However, I do need some time to respond. Which means that your purpose of creating a stimulating discussion of applied Marxism is a great success.  

  •  one would hope that the dying planet would (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, NY brit expat, annieli, ichibon

    inspire us to make some changes and consider that we've going about things the wrong way.

    It would be awesome to see that wind energy production was a key.

    Building Community. Creating Jobs. Donating Art to Community Organizations. Support the Katalogue

    by UnaSpenser on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 05:01:29 PM PDT

  •  Great stuff! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, NY brit expat, mrkvica, JayRaye

    I wish I were sufficiently awake and alert to fully digest it, and I intend to re-read it tomorrow after I've had a chance to sleep.

    "The Work we are going about is ... to Sow Corn, and to eat our bread together by the sweat of our brows ... that we may ... lay the Foundation of making the Earth a Common Treasury for All, both Rich and Poor." (Gerrard Winstanley, 1649)

    by Le Gauchiste on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 05:22:27 PM PDT

  •  A stiff headwind, but a necessary question (5+ / 0-)

    So long as the cultural frame of "wind power" remains capitalized -- wrapped into the concept of "power company" and "110 AC" -- then the inability of capitalists to find a way to have a reliable surplus value on each investment means that wind remains "impractical." When wind becomes an individual or neighborhood or co-operative concept, no longer associated with "the power company," but instead associated with "home improvement" or "cost cutting" or "wise consumerism," then it's possible for wind power to grow again.

    In other words, Sinnergy or Ducal Power will allow wind when compelled by government penalty or paid by governmental subsidy or when its board can be certain that it will have a predictable rate of profit that will be greater than natural gas and coal and will extend into the future. This last circumstance is the crime of capitalism. The profit the capitalist seeks is against the workers and comes for having done nothing productive.

    Microturbines and small scale generation should have exploded by now. We have to invent in order to take the wind mill back from the estrangement it has gotten in order to make it possible again.

    Thanks for making that clear.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 06:45:34 PM PDT

    •  When I was off sailing in my... (5+ / 0-)

      bluewater sailboat for long periods, I provided all my energy with solar panels and wind energy. It worked fine. All it takes is the will to do it, to live according to the energy produced, and no more. My boat had a little computer that told me how much energy I was using, how much was being produced, how much was stored in a series of massive truck batteries.

      It is doable. All it takes is the will. Every home could function in the same manner.

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 07:05:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Small scale wind is a fool's game. (0+ / 0-)
      Microturbines and small scale generation should have exploded by now.
      Actually, that's a perfectly rational result, and you should be thankful.

      Available wind energy scales as the cube of average wind speed.  Winds are stronger and steadier hundreds of feet above the ground.

      A 100m wind tower can be 100x more efficient at power generation than a backyard windmill.  Wind is a go big or go home technology.

      Backyard wind is wasted money.  Anyone interested in wind generation is far better off buying shares in a tower.  Put political efforts into making that easy and feasible.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 12:35:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  perhaps size matters, scale definitely does (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

        by annieli on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:02:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Go big for $$$$ (You betcha!) (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annieli, JayRaye, ZhenRen

        How much do you NEED?

        You're speaking industrially and capitalistically.

        You want to go big or go home. That's nice, if your goal is efficiency and not wasting money. Money, after all, is the metric by which a capitalist measures everything from ethics to energy.

        On the other hand, for those persons who wish to ask what is needed, the metric is not "wasted money" but the long term provision needs for the lowest cost. An array of microturbines along the edge of a four storey building can power that building and a few others. That does not involve a large tower, nor does it involve a large loan.

        Will every drop of that wind's power be taken by the device for maximum dollars? No. Is that the goal? Well, if you're an investor, you go ahead and think that way. You'll have a lot of company.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:57:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As a crazy Scotsman once said, (0+ / 0-)

          "Captain, you cannot change the laws of physics."

          That's nice, if your goal is efficiency and not wasting money.
          I fail to see how efficiency is ever a bad thing.
          On the other hand, for those persons who wish to ask what is needed, the metric is not "wasted money" but the long term provision needs for the lowest cost.
          So after slamming me for using efficiency as a metric, you ... use efficiency as a metric?

          If you're trying to make some argument along the lines of "politics is the art of the possible, and small-scale wind is possible because it's contained to one or a few decision makers, with few zoning vetoes", you'd really be better off stating that directly.  I'd prefer to see zoning boards institute rational policy, document the opposition and vote them out.

          Trust me, I'm very frustrated.  I would like to see serious Leftist economics and Green energy instituted among local, municipal, and state "coalitions of the willing".  But if those conversations are happening anywhere, I don't know where.  instead I just see people punting problems up to the Federal government where no action is possible.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 07:38:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Why do marxist analyses always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi

    read like cant?

    •  they read like can, or a needle in a Hegel-stack (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VeggiElaine, JayRaye, 6412093

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

      by annieli on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 09:28:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes indeed reading like Kant's OK with me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye
      Soon afterwards, under the influence of Feuerbach, Marx begins to articulate this radical principle in more naturalist or anthropological terms. But I think we can still detect a clear echo of this post-Kantian theme of radical self-determination as the fundamental ordering principle of the world, even as Marx seeks a new language with which to express this radical humanism. If we are serious about uncovering the mysterious origin or ground of our world, we need look only to ourselves. ‘To be radical is to grasp things by the root’, Marx writes in late 1843, ‘but for man the root is man himself’ (Marx, 1975f, p. 251).

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

      by annieli on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:27:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  From the bad old days (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093

    of the Cold War, explaining economics:
    "What is capitalism?"
         Capitalism is like trying to catch a black cat in a dark room.
    "What is socialism?"
         Socialism is like trying to catch a black cat in a dark room, only there is no cat.
    "What is Marxist-Leninism?"
         Marxist-Leninism is like trying to catch a black cat in a dark room, only there is no cat, but every once in a while shouting, "I've got it!"

    FWIW,

    Shalom.

    "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

    by WineRev on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 07:01:58 AM PDT

  •  This may be my first dip (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli

    into the anti-capitalist pool at KOS.

    I've missed all this commie talk, since I moved out of SF.

    I was surprised that the wind power map appeared to give Texas a low rating, since I think Texas is cranking out a lot of wind power, and has the capacity for a lot more.

    I also had trouble understanding the diary's backhand to the cheek of public power.

    Being what used to be called a sewer socialist, I kind of like public power and think it has a place in boosting alternative energy.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 09:29:10 PM PDT

    •  no problem with public power - the problem is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093

      corporatized public power - Enron being a classic case

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

      by annieli on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 10:22:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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