The last word on Marxism and Ecology, Louis Proyect, has written:

>Amazing. Not a single reference to John Bellamy 
>Foster, Paul Burkett, James O'Connor or Mike Davis.
>What chutzpah.

Let me give some examples of positions taken by 
many Marxist groups in our recent history, positions that have hurt the Left:

- U.S. communist parties endorsed nuclear power 
plants in the 1960s, and so did not join the 
anti-nuke movements that came to a head in the late 1970s.

- they also endorsed fluoridation of drinking 
water, believing the government’s assurances and 
as a result never realizing that fluoridation was 
actually a means for the burgeoning aluminum 
industry to get rid of its waste products in the 
1940s and 50s by dumping them into the nation’s water supply;

- they endorsed mass vaccination of children for 
diseases that children in societies like ours 
SHOULD get, we WANT them to get so that they 
don’t get these diseases as adults where they are 
far more dangerous ­ diseases such as chicken 
pox, measles, mumps, etc. Of course, this 
requires that they have access to healthy food, 
clean water and adequate sanitation; otherwise 
children in impoverished or colonized countries 
would be victimized by these diseases. Measles, 
for instance, is among the top killers of young 
children in the so-called “Third World”;

- the Communist parties also endorsed mass 
spraying of pesticides and over-application of antibiotics;

- they continue to endorse the torture of animals 
by cosmetic companies like Gillette under the 
guise of “scientific research,” and refuse to 
hear, let alone heed, the wide-scale protests of 
young people involved in animal rights struggles, 
ruling them out as part of the Left;

- and they even uphold genetic engineering ­ 
rationalizing it, as they did with the 
Rockefeller-sponsored Green Revolution, as a 
technological means for ending world hunger! – 
yea, right! ­ instead of examining the real causes of hunger to begin with.

In the early 1990s I was organizing with ACT-UP 
in New York City. Despite my pleadings with 
members of Marxist organizations, very few of 
them would get involved with this gay-organized 
but not exclusive organization, perhaps the most 
dynamic and large group in recent City history.

Which leads directly to the movement for 
universal health care ­ or, should we call it, 
“Subsidize the Pharmaceutical Industry” cult.

We need to call for free universal health care ­ 
of course! BUT we also need to engage in a 
continent-wide discussion of what that health 
care should consist of, instead of the factory 
model of healthcare that the Left promotes today! 
Where is that discussion, the understanding that 
free universal health care is by itself not 
enough and may even be counterproductive when not 
combined with those contextual demands, such as 
access to acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropracty, 
nutrition, and herbology? How about a movement to 
de-toxify the environment of the pollutants 
dumped there by industry which is causing us to be sick to begin with?

Why are there 3 times as many episiotomies 
performed on women in the U.S. than in Europe, 
percentage-wise? Is it that women in the U.S. are 
genetically inferior to those elsewhere in the 
world, or that they just don’t know how to give 
birth properly? Obviously, that’s not the case; 
but I’m sure some enterprising corporation will 
soon try to market genetic implants to “correct” 
that “defect.” In reality, it’s the ridiculous 
on-your-back feet-in-stirrups position ­ the 
standard operating position in the U.S. hospitals 
­ that is the cause of the higher percentage here 
of difficult births. Yet doctors insist on that 
position because it is more convenient for them 
and for connecting all the technological gadgetry 
that now is part and parcel of giving birth in this country.

In Cuba, women squat in a sort-of rocking chair 
with the bottom removed and rock the baby out, a 
traditional method that generates a much lower need for C-sections.

Similarly with hysterectomies ­ in the U.S. the 
removal of the uterus is performed at a rate that 
is at least double that of other industrialized 
BEING RAISED BY THE LEFT as part of the demands 
for Universal Health coverage? Why doesn’t the 
Left address widespread concerns over what that 
coverage should consist of, instead of leaving 
that to the so-called capitalist-trained 
“experts”? Increasingly, the choice is the 
Capitalist system vs. the Immune system. The left 
needs to stand on the side of the Immune system ­ don’t you agree?

*     *     *
And, on stem cells:

Some leftists believe that the primary struggle 
today is between science and theocracy. So when 
George Bush steps forward to ban stem cell 
research, they ally with the Democratic Party and 
the capitalist intelligentsia and argue for 
underwriting with public funds billions of 
dollars in stem cell research by giant biotech pharmaceutical corporations.

Bush has threatened to ban this research for 
theocratic reasons. Yes, the theocracy must be 
stopped. But does this mean that the reverse is 
true, that this new technology will cure the 
diseases we face today? Is it the proper way to 
proceed to address those diseases?

Since Richard Nixon declared the "war on cancer" 
in 1971 -- that's Nixon, mind you, now known 
fondly as the "environmental president"(!) -- 
childhood cancers have increased 26 percent 
overall. Rates of some specific cancers have 
increased even more dramatically: acute 
lymphocyte leukemia by 62 percent, brain cancer 
by 50 percent, and bone cancer by 40 percent.(1) 
Increased exposure to pesticides is seen as the 
main reason for this cancer explosion in 
children, NOT faulty genes. A growing number of 
scientists see pesticides, diet sodas 
(particularly aspartame) and cellphone towers as 
related to MS, Parkinson's and other neurological 
and immune compromising diseases, and genetically 
engineered hi-fructose corn syrup to diabetes and overweight youth.

But of course neither the Left nor the government 
nor the corporations involved will address those 
diseases from that perspective.

What's often forgotten in this debate is that not 
only are the biotech companies eagerly seeking 
patents for any new products or processes (that 
is, privatizing them), but there's no discussion 
in this frenzy (Are you for or against it?) of 
the underlying causes of disease that stem cells 
are allegedly being developed to treat. Stem Cell 
proponents, including (unfortunately) a number of 
prominent Marxists, in effect are buying into the 
dominant corporate ideology that disease is 
caused by an individual's faulty genetics. Gene 
therapies, cloning, and stem cell experimentation 
are patentable, and thus lucrative. Ending 
chemical pollution, pesticides, etc. -- the real causes of disease -- are not.

Thus, the alternative to Bush's ban actually 
rewards billions of tax dollars to the same 
companies that are polluting the environment and 
causing these diseases to begin with, to "cure" 
the very diseases that their activities have created.

Stem Cell developments should also require a much 
fuller discussion on this and other leftist 
listserves of the slippery slope of genetic 
cloning and organ cloning, and even animal and 
human cloning. How can we stop this profit making 
juggernaut once the Left has bought into the 
Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies' framework?

The recent Food and Drug Administration's ruling 
to allow the sale of meat and dairy from cloned 
animals follows an intersecting track, in the 
name of "Progress." One would have to be deaf 
dumb and blind not to see the direction the stem 
cell industry is moving in, with the ­ Left's blessings.

The approach that the Left is taking is kind of 
like helping the ice to melt at the north pole so 
that we can help the oil companies find new 
shipping routes and enhanced opportunities for 
oil drilling in the arctic as the ice cap melts. 
According to Walter Gibbs in his July 11, 2000 
Pre-Bush New York Times article Research Predicts 
Summer Doom for Northern Icecap: "While an 
ice-free Arctic Ocean would most likely disrupt 
the global environment, researchers said, it 
could have positive economic aspects. It could 
shorten shipping routes, for example, and expand 
the range of offshore oil drillers". A true 
visionary for our times. That's the kind of 
reductionist thinking we're stuck in.

1) Dr. Samuel Epstein, M.D., and Dr. Quentin 
Young, M.D., as quoted in Pesticides and You v.22 no.2, Summer 2002.