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JOEL KOVEL Printer Friendly Page

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February 19, 2009

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  • Marxist professor and writer
  • Environmental activist
  • Characterizes capitalism as the "enemy of nature"


Joel Kovel began his academic career as a Professor of Psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is the author of White Racism: A Psycho-History (1976); Against the State of Nuclear Terror (1983); In Nicaragua (1984); Red Hunting in the Promised Land (1997); and other similar titles. Since 1988 he has been the Alger Hiss Professor of Social Studies at Bard College
, a fitting honorific (Hiss was a Soviet spy) for an unreconstructed Marxist who has described anti-Communism as a psychological disorder.

A “psycho-historian,” Kovel has recently ventured into the realm of environmental frenetics.  His latest book is The Enemy of Nature (2001) and in 2000, he made an unsuccessful bid for the Green Party presidential nomination. The “enemy of nature” referred to in Kovel’s title and targeted in his political campaign is, of course, capitalism. “The first thing I would do [as President],” said Kovel, “is mobilize the millions of people who realize the need for fundamental change with a nationwide address to bring down the capitalist system.”

Kovel views capitalism as the destroyer of nature; he condemns “capital’s assault on ecologies.” In his essay, “A Socialism for the Next Epoch,” Kovel writes, “The pathogen is the endlessly invasive and expansive force of capital, gnawing away at the threads of ecological integrity, and exceeding, with its inexorable pressure to expand, the earth’s capacity to buffer ecological destabilization.” In his “Ecosocialist Manifesto,” Kovel proposes a cure for the ills allegedly created by capitalism: “The generalization of ecological production under socialist conditions can provide the ground for the overcoming of the present crises…surpass[ing] the conditions leading to fundamentalist distortions and their terrorist manifestations.”



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