Academic journal article New Formations

'Ecosystem Service Commodities' a New Imperial Ecology? Implications for Animist Immanent Ecologies, with Deleuze and Guattari

Academic journal article New Formations

'Ecosystem Service Commodities' a New Imperial Ecology? Implications for Animist Immanent Ecologies, with Deleuze and Guattari

Article excerpt

Who gives a chicken's fart about the Garden of Eden and rural tranquillity and improbable things like that? No one thinks about that stuff any more. No one believes in it. All we care about is the next pay packet, the next meal, the next gratification, the next party, the next football match, the next sensation. (1)

TRANSFORMATION

In 1944, as the Nazi Reich was drawing its final breaths, the economic historian Karl Polanyi wrote in The Great Transformation that '[w]hat we call land is an element of nature inextricably interwoven with man's [sic] institutions. To

isolate it and form a market for it was perhaps the weirdest of all the undertakings of our ancestors'. (2) He continued by noting that:

   ... in the field of modern colonization ... the true significance
   of such a venture becomes manifest. Whether the colonist needs land
   as a site for the sake of the wealth buried in it, or whether he
   merely wishes to constrain the native to produce a surplus of food
   and raw materials, is often irrelevant; nor does it make much
   difference whether the native works under the direct supervision of
   the colonist or only under some form of indirect compulsion, for in
   every and any case the social and cultural system of native life
   must first be shattered. (3)

In the same year, the free market economist Friedrich von Hayek published The Road to Serfdom. (4) This seminal work fixes the intellectual argument for a global self-regulating market economy, claiming that this is the only form of political economy that will avoid the serfdom and totalitarianism Hayek saw as flowing inevitably from any planned collectivist or centrally regulated productive system. The road instead was to be open for a capitalist trade of commodities, goods and services extending into all domains of the earth and directed by market prices, enfolded in a monetary system controlled by haute finance--an international banking coalition whose financial freedom was ensured through the release of money's value from the material constraint of the gold standard. (5)

Hayek's 'manifesto', its elaboration by neoclassical economist luminaries such as the Chicago School of Economists and their most well-known protagonist, Milton Friedman, and its extension globally through a real-politik of 'economic hitmen', CIA 'jackals', and military adventure, guide global capitalism today, structuring both social and socio-environment relations. (6) This global machine has required the iterative 'disembedding' of people from land, and of land from 'nature', in service to the exchange of 'fictitious commodities', namely land, money and labour. (7) These become subsumed under the market mechanism through their radical ideational transformation into the commodity form, and not because they come into existence through their initial material creation as such. The widening disjunctions between human and non-human worlds that this produces are fuelled further by increased capture of nature's sensual reality into the prolific and endlessly exchangeable spectacle of 'celluloid nature', paradoxically making nature's screened and replicated presence both more vividly consumable, at the same time as being somehow less experientially reachable. (8)

How are we to understand the structuring and alienating effects of these contexts as they proliferate in management of 'the global environment' and in the production of new 'imperial ecologies'? (9) How might the assumed epistemologies and ontologies of human/non-human relationships from which they flow be opened up and discussed freely? What theoretical resources are to hand to assist with a problematisation of current unfoldings of these dynamics in the globally urgent arena of ecological crisis?

In this essay I extend a response to these questions by drawing into the frame some of the theoretical reflections and concepts of post-structuralist philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. …

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