Climate change presents an existential challenge to human existence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects 1.5°C of warming by 2030 and 3-4°C by 2100, which would make large parts of the globe uninhabitable through flooding and desertification. The impacts are already being felt. The arctic is melting. Deforestation and warming both exacerbate the conditions for pathogens to mutate and spill into human populations. That this is the result of human action is undeniable; that it is the result of capitalism’s ceaseless drive towards accumulation is equally undeniable, but less widely recognized. The need to do something is widely accepted, but capital accumulation rumbles on inexorably, even turning crises into new opportunities for extraction and valorisation. The choice between revolutionary transformation or common ruin has never been starker.
This ecological crisis forces us to reconsider the socialist legacy in regard to nature. The history of the relationship between socialism and ecology has not been an easy one. This is especially evident in the case of Marxism, which was often seen as a progressivist doctrine proclaiming the emancipatory potential of the growth of productive forces. The Promethean attitude towards nature, which some believe to be inherent in Marx’s anthropology, was taken even further in the Soviet Union, resulting in the rapid industrialisation and catastrophic devastation of the natural environment. It would be wrong, however, to assume that the Soviet attitude towards nature can be reduced to factory chimneys, Chernobyl, and the drying of the Aral Sea. This legacy also involved large ecological initiatives and novel contributions to the scientific knowledge of the environment, as well as some voices of dissent and suggestions of alternative paths towards a socialist future.
This ambiguous Soviet legacy has a particular effect on the so-called post-communist countries. They struggle not only with the effects of environmental degradation dating back to the Stalinist period, but also with the aftermath of the rapid transition to capitalism. Moreover, their semi-peripheral position in the capitalist world-system makes them a perfect place for Western European countries to outsource their ecological problems, and even their toxic waste. Recent years have seen a notable growth in campaigns for climate justice throughout the region, as well as movements and mass protests around local issues of ecology, environment, and agriculture (e.g. protests against landfills in Russia and Bulgaria, protests against the coal industry in the Czech Republic, protests against deforestation in Poland). These movements have not been well-researched yet, and their class structure and relationship to the anti-capitalist movement deserve greater attention.
We invite contributions that further the study of the complex relationship between socialism and ecological thinking, particularly focusing on post-communist countries and their history. Suggested topics and questions to be addressed may include, but are not limited to:
- the legacy of Soviet ecology;
- the discourse and consequences of Soviet industrialisation;
- unofficial or dissident ecological thought in the Eastern Bloc;
- ecological challenges and movements in post-communist countries;
- ecology and the world-system;
- the food market and agriculture in Eastern Europe;
- the relationship between ecological crisis and the capitalist mode of production (e. g. the anthropocene vs. the capitalocene);
- analysis of liberal and conservative answers to the ecological crisis;
- analysis of the ecological crisis and possible solutions in socialist thought (e. g. ecological Leninism, Fully Automated Luxury Communism, the Green New Deal, Marxist ecofeminism);
- degrowth economics and its relationship to Marxism;
- the place of the State in ecosocialism;
- the status of nature in Marxism.
Submissions can take the form of:
- “Studies” and “essays”: These may be articles of a more or less traditional academic character, but with an emphasis on the social significance of the material presented and on original and provocative argumentation. But we also welcome more essayistic contributions that break with some of the conventions of scholarly form. We are interested in rigorously theoretical essays, works of high scholarly value but which might not find a place in other scholarly journals. Texts may be up to 10,000 words long (including notes and citations), as long as the text’s length is justified by the needs of the author’s argument. Include a list of key words and an abstract of approximately 200 - 300 words. All studies and essays will be subject to independent, double-blind peer review.
- “Discussion contributions”: polemical texts addressing a theme of particular interest to the journal’s readership.
- “Translations” and “materials”: Important contributions to Central/Eastern European social thought that can be brought to international attention in English translation; internationally important works in new Czech or Slovak translations; and previously unpublished or long-unavailable “materials,” accompanied by annotation that presents the materials’ significance to contemporary readers (these may be submitted in English, Czech, or Slovak). 3000-10,000 words.
- “Reviews” of recent publications relevant to the theme of the issue. Reviews may be brief (1000-2500 words) or may constitute longer “review essays” (2500-7500 words). A list of potential books to review is available here, but we are open to suggestions of other titles.
The final deadline for submissions is 17th January 2022. We encourage those considering submissions to contact one the editors, Dan Swain (email@example.com) or Monika Woźniak (firstname.lastname@example.org) in advance of the deadline to discuss them. Further guidelines for authors are available here: https://kontradikce.flu.cas.cz/en/guidelines-for-authors