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Appropriation and socio-ecological production for a new socialist model

Appropriation and socio-ecological production for a new socialist model

By Joel Sangronis Padrón

The ecosocialism of the 21st century must base its proposal on new forms of productive consciousness. To build this new socio-environmental rationality, it is necessary, as Enrique Leff says, “to unearth the ecological conditions of sustainability and unfreeze in a time in which the cultural senses have been numbed, denied and unknown by the egocentricity and the megalomania of capitalist economic rationality” (Leff Enrique, Idem).


Since the Western model has shown
Its conclusive long-term unsustainability,
It could be said that underdevelopment is
The status of countries that have not yet been
Close enough to developmental unsustainability.
Ramon Folch

The Bolivarian revolution is generating in Venezuela unequal forms of production, development, accumulation and specialization of labor and capital.

Corporate forms of capitalism such as national and transnational anonymous companies, entities dedicated to financial speculation and brokerage houses coexist in a parallel and often contradictory way, with companies of social production of community, state or mixed property, associative forms of small property nominally cooperative in character and even some experimental forms of socialist communes. It seems that the 21st century socialism that the government of President Chávez aspires to build contemplates the “peaceful and harmonious” coexistence of these forms of production, at least during a stage of transition from the capitalist model to that socialism.

This coexistence, within a context almost totally covered by the conditions, norms, rules and laws of the liberal market, seems unfortunate for the non-capitalist forms of production and distribution that the Bolivarian process encourages.

In socialism the purpose of production is not to generate profits for individuals but to produce what is necessary for the members of society and make them participate in a fair and equitable way in the distribution of these goods and services, exactly the opposite of the rules of the liberal market -capitalist where competition, profit and survival of the fittest are the main forces that move it.

It is obvious that in the midst of the heat of the political struggle (to the death, literally speaking) in which the Bolivarian process is involved, it is not possible to apply the principle of giving "to each according to his needs, to each according to his capabilities". For this reason, the reformist and redistributive policies of the government of President Chávez have sought to alleviate and alleviate the most pressing deficiencies of the historically excluded and marginalized classes while exploring transition and construction paths towards socialism.

All the forms mentioned at the beginning share the same model of acquisition of goods that are removed from the natural environment, that is, the capitalist model of appropriation and economic production.

This type of traumatic superposition of modes of production and appropriation of nature is not new in our countries, Spanish and Portuguese at first and English and Americans in the last 150 years introduced foreign modes of production to our ecosystems and indigenous cultures that they produced violent fractures in their rhythms, cycles and processes.

In Venezuela, the intervention, and in many cases destruction of ecosystems, occurred as a result of the insertion of its economy into the world capitalist system at the hands of the large oil corporations such as the Standard Oil of New Jersey and the Royal Ducht Shell. These large transnational corporations technologically incorporated natural assets, human labor force and indigenous and ancestral socio-cultural models into the capitalist production process, modifying them and in many cases dislocating and / or destroying them.

Most of the rural communities of Venezuela at the beginning of the 20th century (85% of the population) presented non-capitalist socio-economic formations (community, semi-feudal and small family property). These modes of production, with their limited technological means to appropriate nature, did little harm to it.

Mercantile exchange, new forms of division of labor and capitalist reorganization produced severe modifications in the ways in which people related to their environment, their peers and themselves, because, it must be remembered, depending on the mode of production and the social relations that derive from it, so will the social structure that is formed. H.J. Hardborth wrote in this regard: “Imitative modernization in peripheral societies has meant very little progress and has led, at the same time, to the destruction of subsistence economy systems that had the enormous advantage of being well adapted to ecologically precarious environments ( one).

The irruption of the capitalist model, embodied in the large oil transnationals in Venezuela, fruit companies in Central America, ranchers, railways and finance companies in Argentina, mining companies in Bolivia, Chile and Peru, agro-exporters in Brazil and other countries in the region, imposed a way of production only interested in multiplying and maximizing its profits, using for this the appropriation of natural goods and human labor. Nature (including here human labor) was transformed into an object that capital appropriated to maximize profits. What was announced by Marx's thought was fully fulfilled; As the mode and forms of production advance in one direction, the development of the productive forces ends up transforming man's relations with the environment, thereby increasing the impact of economic activity on nature.

It should be noted that the biological processes of production and reproduction of ecosystems are overdetermined by the mode of production that is installed or applied in them, for this reason, they thus become the object of work processes and capital accumulation.

This short-term, predatory and unsupportive model was imposed by the ruling class on the rest of society, which ended up assuming it as their own. This produced socio-ecological catastrophes such as Lake Maracaibo where oil exploitation, but even more so, the imposition of what the Venezuelan anthropologist Rodolfo Quintero has called "the oil culture", produced a "breakdown of the metabolism between human societies and nature". Rupture that remains today.

Eco-predatory or eco-indifferent ideas, behaviors, values ​​and tendencies are not inserted into society by magic or by divine design, but are produced by certain historical-social relations and specific modes of production. The eco-suicidal tendency of capitalism cannot be modified without modifying this type of relations and modes of production.


The socialism of the XXI century must overcome the mode of appropriation of natural goods and production and disposal of the capitalist system if it aspires to build other types of social relations. It must try to recover and reestablish the metabolic relationship of the human species with nature, broken by capitalism.

Nothing will be achieved with the simple workers' control of the manufacturing and productive apparatus (without underestimating this achievement in the least) if those who take it assume themselves in the role of new "owners", of potentates, of capitalists; Nor will progress be made if the modes of appropriation of natural goods and the relations of production, commercialization and waste do not transcend and exceed the logic of the capitalist system.

The questions of the ecosocialism of the 21st century must be:

What will be produced?
How will it be produced?
How much will be produced?
How and how much will it be consumed?
How and how much will be disposed of?

If production, consumption and waste continue to be governed and determined by the powerful forces of the capitalist market, the order established by this mode of production cannot be overcome.

The appropriation, production, consumption and disposal of goods must be controlled by an order that favors cooperation, complementarity, solidarity, and ultimately, a pre-eminence of use value over the current predominance of the exchange value of goods. Nature must be perceived and treated accordingly as an entity that generates synergistic, holistic and integrative processes and not as a simple deposit of goods and raw materials to be appropriated.

If only control and ownership of the means of production are privileged, but the system of social and economic relations of capitalism is not rethought and reconstituted, no socialist model will be viable; Worse still, socially-owned, self-managed, cooperative and community-owned companies that compete with capitalist consortia with the rules of the game of capitalism, are condemned in advance to be devoured by its monopolistic and exclusive nature or inexorably destined to become clones of capitalism. these last.

How to make sure that the members of these companies of social production, who will see their standards and standards of living rapidly increase, which in capitalism is synonymous with greater consumption of things, objects, most of the time superfluous and with value change, don't they end up being furious defenders of capitalist ideology? Because in capitalism, it must be remembered, the more the person consumes the more they believe they approach the model or lifestyle that the ruling class and its great advertising and cultural industry have created as a synonym of happiness and beauty, that is, the more they identify with the ideology of the ruling class.

The Marxist approach is the guide to walk the path from capitalism to a new socialist order, this despite the fact that Marx did not expressly establish a theory of the forms of transition from one mode of production to another mode of production, but only indications and sketches. Here, Venezuelans and Latin Americans will have to appeal to our own roots, traditions and experiences to build a more humane, more just and not ecologically suicidal model like capitalism. But in no case will this new model to be created be able to maintain the bases and the ecological and social contradictions that capitalism entails in its own nature.

Latin American authors have carried out studies on this point, among them the following stand out: “The Ecological Rationality of Productive Practices Rooted in the Pre-Hispanic Development Style” by Gligo, N and J Morello in Styles of Development and Environment in Latin America FCE, Mexico. 1,998. The Peasant Production Mode of Toledo, V.M and A. Argueta. In Nature, Production and Culture in an Indigenous Region of Mexico: The Lessons of Pátzcuro. In Leff / Carabias. pp. 413-443. The Theory of Vertical Eco-Symbiotic Complementarity of Cardaco, R and J Murra. Hisbol, La Paz, 1987. And La Utoía Andina de Burgos, M. and A. Flores Galindo in Allpanchis. Vol 20, 1982. Cepal / UNEP: Peasant Survival in Highland Ecosystems, 2 Vols, Santiago de Chile, 1983. Cited by Leff Enrique: Space, Place and Time: The Social Reappropriation of Nature and the Local Construction of Environmental Rationality. Nueva Sociedad Magazine, Number 175. September-October 2001, pp 28-42.

The ecosocialism of the 21st century must base its proposal on new forms of productive consciousness. To build this new socio-environmental rationality, it is necessary, as Enrique Leff says, “to unearth the ecological conditions of sustainability and unfreeze in a time in which the cultural senses have been numb, denied and unknown by the egocentricity and megalomania of capitalist economic rationality” (Leff Enrique, Idem).

This level of consciousness must be extended especially to the forms of appropriation of the goods that we remove from our environment and the way in which we throw our waste into it.

Joel Sangronis Padrón is Professor UNERMB - Venezuela

(1) Harborth H.J .: Ecological Debate and Development Theory. In Development Theory and Praxis. A Critical Balance. Icaria. Barcelona. 1,989. 119


Video: Nancy Fraser: Climates of Capital: Anatomy of Ecological Crisis. (July 2021).