It's capitalism, stupid

  At a time when the morale of the environmental community is at such a low point, why do Ray Ring and the editor wish to feature a story casting aspersions and fomenting factional bickering? One is led to believe that behind every issue, especially here in Montana where I have lived and worked as an activist for almost 30 years, there is an obstructionist tree-hugger thwarting consensus and peaceful resolution. The assertion that "if environmentalists had gotten involved anytime earlier than 1999, they could have helped start the cleanup (of asbestos in Libby, Mont.) sooner" is akin to saying blacks were responsible for segregation because they didn’t start the civil rights movement soon enough (HCN, 2/21/05: Where were the environmentalists when Libby needed them most?).

Ring is trying to achieve some sort of "balance." But there is one essential aspect of the overarching analysis which you don’t mention, and that is the macroeconomic structure that determines our social, property, class and power relations: Capitalism. It contains within its design and function inherent contradictions at the root of every environmental issue you have highlighted since your inception, and yet it remains outside the boundaries of the conversation.

At some point someone, somewhere, will have to take on the dominant narrative that says, "We can have it all — unlimited prosperity, a clean healthy environment, peace and justice for all — and it will all be painless if we will only learn to ‘compromise.’ "

David D. Jones
Hamilton, Montana