"So, do we overthrow the State?"

Another discussion thread on a very important question Melissa raised in class last week - if capitalism plays the role Nadasdy pointed out in that chapter, what is to be done of restoration ecology?

I think there may be a general feeling among people who would like to restore ecosystems - and who are aware of the situation Nadasdy points out - that the problem of capitalism is too large to be addressed by restoration ecologists. If one is good at ecological restoration, perhaps she can do her best, "do her part", and hope better days will come one way or another.

This is understandable, but I don't think it excuses us from dealing more actively and seriously with the question at hand. We must ultimately "just do our part", but *how* we situate our work in the ongoing class struggles can be widely different.

On the one hand, we can continue to pretend that "science is neutral" and that "any restoration is better than none at all", even if our work is being co-opted by socially and environmentally destructive corporations and state agencies. All restoration work will continue to be limited by the parameters of profit-making and green-washing capitalism. Indeed, the commodification of restoration is a crucial issue - and I invite Adam Romero to comment more on this subject in class and here in this discussion thread.

On the other hand, we can search for and recognize the people who already are actively engaging in class struggle and building up another possible world - and bring our privileged scientific resources to work in solidarity with them. Who these are and what this means will be widely different in different places, and it is up for each of us to situate ourselves.

On my own account, I can tell you briefly how I came to my research project. I had been doing a Masters in political philosophy at the University of Colorado, and decided to return to my native Brazil to work with the peasant movements that are occupying unproductive land and socially or environmentally damaging plantations to demand agrarian reform. By the time I decided to return to graduate school, the peasants themselves helped me understand the proper role for the academic resources which I am privileged to have. Instead of studying the peasant movements themselves, or something else that I simply "find interesting", it is more important for me to study the socially and environmentally destructive agribusiness they struggle against. I have access to resources - which they don't have - to clearly and forcefully demonstrate the extent of the environmental damage caused by agrotoxic contamination in soils and run-off into watersheds, as well as erosion and salinization of soils, eutrophication of water bodies, deforestation, displacement and loss of biodiversity, and impact on climate change. I can then analyze this environmental damage alongside the broader political economy of Brazil, the process of agrarian reform, and the democratization of our society. My intention is to use my research to strengthen the case of the peasant movements who are already struggling against the capitalist agribusiness that is preeminently responsible for ecological degradation of our ecosystems. In this way, my hope is to not only recognize the capitalist context in which we must do scientific research, but to put the struggle against capitalism as the very foundation of my scientific work.

I encourage you all to find ways to do the same.

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