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China, Brazil and the fairground mirror
Pollution in Beijing, at absurd levels and humanly unbearable, is a reflection of a choice of capitalist growth at whatever cost. [Português]
China, Brazil and the fairground mirror
Pollution in Beijing, at absurd levels and humanly unbearable, is a reflection of a choice of capitalist growth at whatever cost.
On Saturday 12th January, Beijing - the capital of China, the imperial city - hit absolute records of atmospheric pollution. In scenes reminiscent of the worst days of Cubatão (the "Valley of Death" in the 1980s), the air became unbreathable, surpassing human tolerance levels by forty times.
As I've written here on other occasions, this is nothing new - it's part of the contemporary paradox. Since the motto of Deng Xiaoping (To get rich is glorious!) was adopted as the State's raison d'etre, the country of Mao Zedong has spared no effort to achieve economic growth and development - at any cost - of the productive forces. The problem lies elsewhere.
Through the Export Processing Zones (in the 1980) initially, then with the gradual liberalization of the economy (though without opening the capital market), Chinese capitalism approached two complementary extremes. On the one hand, it has applied in an exemplary way the neoliberal premise that economic freedoms stand above political freedoms. On the other, the forms of containment of liberal democracies are of little or no value. Included among these are environmental laws which, although they improve the quality of life of citizens, ultimately reduce productivity and the scale of earnings. Between income and life, the mandarins - newly converted into wild entrepreneurs - have made their choice.
Brazilian democracy has already found a "solution" to the same problem. We have another kind of paradox, a less sincere one. Here we combine the most advanced environmental legislation in the world with wild growth of agri-business and the extraction of raw materials. Led by the commodities of soya beans and iron ore, Brazil's trade balance anchors its national growth. We depend on the sale of commodities without added value. The bill is a high one, both in terms of dependence on these commodities and for Brazilian biomes. National developmentism does not take into account the cultural factor or life forms. Projects like Jirau  and Belo Monte  embody the concept. To complete the tragedy, conservative commentators classify those who defend the rational use of non-durable goods as "eco-bores".
Chinese growth is praised for its worst aspects while here an irresponsible primary export platform is taking shape. Biodiversity is considered the most important asset in official speeches, but never a priority in development policies. This is the conviction of the Executive. The international scenario of the emerging countries is like a fairground mirror.
Bruno Lima Rocha
1. Jirau Dam, a huge dam being built on the Madeira River in western Brazil.
Translation by FdCA International Relations Office
Fri 27 Feb, 22:23
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Across South America there is a growing movement – assuming different forms and characteristics, but with similar origins, demands and objectives – that, despite it being located at a strategically important intersection between two critical social issues – class struggle and ecology – seems to me to have received little attention in South African academic and activist circles. And this is true despite the fact that the social and economic conditions that gave rise to this movement prevail in South Africa, as they did – and continue to – in many South American countries. Perhaps this is due to the fact that this movement concerns people largely marginalised by industrial society and so-called ‘brown’ ecological issues – such as the pollution and contamination of rivers and dams surrounding poor communities, most acutely effecting the workers and poor – as opposed to the much more sanitary ‘green’ ecological issues – such as conservation and animal welfare – often associated, in South Africa at least, with liberal white activists from the middle and upper classes . This is the movement of the catadores, as they are known in Brazil, and clasificadores in Uruguay; the recyclable waste pickers and sorters who, similarly to South Africa, constitute a growing informal sector in the industrial production cycle. This includes all people – not formally employed by public or private waste management services – who collect, transport, classify and sell recyclable waste for a living – or ‘work with scrap’ – thus “reducing demand for natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions” . A category of work which, according to the World Bank, is performed by 15 million people globally – or one percent of the world population  – and has become increasingly common in South Africa in recent years.
The Ecological Crisis is an Economic Crisis is an Energy Crisis Jul 26 6 comments
The world crisis is economic, ecological, and energy-based. Liberals want the state to regulate business and have a "new New Deal" to rebuild the economy and ecology. It won't work. Revolutionary anarchists want a new, ecological, economy which is democratically planned, produces for need not for profit, and is a decentralized federalism.
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