Lawrence Ferlinghetti Turns 100 Years Old

Lawrence Ferlinghetti Turns 100 Years Old

On the forthcoming March 24.

This last of the Beat Poets, who founded and still owns both the City Lights bookstore and the associated City Lights press, which legally overcame an effort in 1956 to prevent him from publishing Allen Ginsberg’s poem, _Howl_, he is not only alive and well by current reports, and looking forward to his centennial birthday party, but his bookstore on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco as well as his press are also doing well.  Apparently the celebrations will begin a week early on St. Patrick’s Day with a massive poetry reading and will go on for over a week, culminating on March 26 with a reconsideration of the 1956 case that led to him publishing _Howl_

His bookstore continues to be outstanding.  I bought s book about whales there for a grandson, and I also bought _Karl Marx’s EcoSocialism_, by Kohei Saito, Monthly Review Press, 2017, derived from a PhD dissertation written in German in Frankfurt-am-Main in 2016, although the author came out of Japan and relied heavily on Japanese sources as well as German ones. Particularly interesting are various notes on ecology Marx wrote that were never publlished, and, of course, remain in German.

Many of these unpublished notes involve Marx’s views of Justus von Liebig, basically the founder of modern agro-chemistry, with his “Law of the Minimum,” (“Eine phosphor, keine Leben”), that the minimum necessary biogeochemical eleement in an ecosystem will limit its biomass producrion.  It is a fundamental principle of ecology, which name was coined by Ernst Haekel, Darwin’s champion in Germnay who was at Jena where Marx got his PhD.  Haeckel was a German nationalists whose students and students of students would later become Hitler suppoeters.  Marx admired von Liebig and saw his studies as key to understanding how capitalism could destry nature.  This was tied to Marx identifying nature with wealth as opposed to value, which came from labor.  However, he was also upset with von Liebig because of his support of the reactionary Malthus.  Marx himself presents a mixed history, at times presenting a “brown Marxist” view in his “Promethean belief in the virtues of technology and ability of humans to manage nature wissely, while at others worried about capitalist agriculture destroying the welath of nature.

Needless to say, in these days where a revival of socialism is being deeply tied to the environmental movement, reconsidering Marx’s views on this is important, and it is useful to see these unpublished writings of his discussed and highlighted.  I also note that this followsearlier work byJohn Bellamy Foster, who is now an editor at Monthly Review Press.

Anyway, I wish Ferlinghetti a happy cenrennial birthday.

Barkley Rosser