Reply To: Mon 17 Feb: World Systems, History and Ecology

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Sabbath Sunday # Posted on February 18, 2014 at 13:33

Seminar 2, Mon 17 Feb:
World Systems, History and Ecology
Reflections by Sabbath Sunday

I will base my reflections on J. W. Moore’s articles on the above theme with regard to Immanuel Wallerstein’s perceptions who was the first to develop a theoretical framework to understand the historical changes involved in the rise of capitalism up to the modern day world systems. Both authors agree that ‘the world is one unit connected by a complex of network economic exchange relationships.’ J. W. Moore goes on to refer this phenomenon as an ‘oikeios’ which is a Greek terminology that means ‘belonging to one household and also being related to each other.’ Thus, the universe should be regarded as a family of interrelated units which include; ‘flora, fauna, geological and biospheric configurations ie cycles and movements.’ However, according to J.W. Moore, the expected harmonic relationship has been altered in time and space by historical changes which have been characterized by successive socio-ecological shifts relying on capitalistic demands.

The history of capitalism and its impact on world ecology has been well tackled by both Immanuel Wallerstein and J.W. Moore, tracing it right way from around 1500 to the present. It was still the nature-society relationship that saw the collapse of feudalism and the growing of capitalism in Europe. This was a mere change of system to ensure continued economic growth. However, the so called civilisation and capitalism combined, ignored nature as a ‘historically variant webs of life’ but even went further to look for new frontiers to sustain accumulation with cheap products, leaving behind trails of exhausted and disused ecosystems. Capitalism discards the notion of ‘oikeios’ but rather, only regards the ‘extra-human nature as an external entity which is only a source of wealth and power. The process of human-ecological history that run through the period 1450-1750 up to the present day has been characterized by globalization of world resources, developmentalism, finacialism and accumulation whose negative results on ecology, have been registered in climate change, agro-ecological exhaustion, diseases etc.

In conclusion, my reflection goes to the shifting of capitalism from frontier expansion of a direct socio-ecological hegemony to the present day finance hegemonies. While the former seemed to have been halted by the end of colonialism, the latter still makes no difference on affecting ecology. Colonial empires plundered their frontiers for cheap resource extraction through agriculture, mining, and slave labour, but the modern states have only mutated into a new system of neocolonialism by hiding behind world financial bodies like IMF and World Bank to continue sustaining the aims of obtaining cheap products. However, according to Immanuel Wallerstein the strong modern states or core states have only facilitated a ‘skewed development in which economic and social disparities between sections of the world economy have increased instead of providing prosperity for all.’ It is thus predicted that ‘a worldwide economic crisis is imminent and that the capitalist world economic system will collapse, giving way to new revolutionary changes’.