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Journal of the Communist Party of Australia

ISSUE 65August 2017

The protection of nature
by the Soviet government

The Soviet Union developed some of the world’s most significant contributions to ecology, revolutionising science in fields such as climatology, while also introducing pioneering forms of conservation. Aside from its famous zapovedniki, that is, nature reserves for scientific research, it preserved and even expanded its forests. As environmental historian Stephen Brain observed, the USSR established “levels of forest protection unparalleled anywhere in the world”. Beginning in the 1960s the Soviet Union increasingly instituted environmental reforms, and in the 1980s was the site of what has been called an “ecological revolution”.

From the 1960s onward, Soviet ecological thought grew rapidly together with the environmental movement, which was led primarily by scientists. In the 1970s and ’80s it evolved into a mass movement, leading to the emergence in the USSR of the largest conservation organisation in the world. These developments resulted in substantial changes in society. For example, between 1980 and 1990 air pollutants from stationary sources fell by over 23 per cent.

The Soviet Union also played a very important role in the development of global ecology. Soviet climatologists discovered, and alerted the world to, the acceleration of global climate change; developed the major early climate change models; demonstrated the extent to which the melting of polar ice would create a positive feedback loop, speeding up global warming; pioneered paleoclimatic analysis; and constructed a new approach to global ecology as a distinct field based on the analysis of the biosphere. Soviet ecology can be divided into roughly three periods:

1. Early Soviet ecology, characterised by revolutionary ecological theories and key conservation initiatives from the 1917 revolution up to the mid-1930s;

2. The middle or Stalin period, from late 1930s to the mid-1950s, dominated by purges of the USSR’s leading ecological thinkers, rapid industrialisation and aggressive reforestation;

3. Late Soviet ecology from the late 1950s to 1991, marked by the development of a dialectical “global ecology” and the emergence of a powerful Soviet environmental movement, responding in particular to the extreme environmental degradation of the decade following Stalin’s death in 1953.

After the victory of the October revolution in Russia, the Bolsheviks supported and implemented a groundbreaking ecological policy. Lenin had strongly embraced ecological values, partly under the influence of Marx and Engels, and was deeply concerned with conservation. He read Vladimir Sukachev’s Swamps: Their Formation, Development and Properties and was affected by the ecological spirit of Sukachev’s pioneering text in community ecology. Immediately after the October 1917 revolution, Lenin supported the creation of the People’s Commissariat of Education under the leadership of Anatoli Lunacharsky, which was given responsibility for conservation. In 1924 the All-Russian Conservation Society (VOOP) was created with an initial membership of around one thousand. Lenin and Lunacharsky were strong supporters of an ecological policy targeted towards rural sustainability, biodiversity and ecological research. All that despite the desperate economic situation in which the young Soviet state was found due to the destruction that the first world war caused and the unrestrained ferocity of the three-year civil war, waged against Soviet Russia by the Whites and the armies of all the most powerful capitalist countries.

Soviet Russia pioneered ecological theory and practice. Key Soviet ecological thinkers, besides Sukachev, were the Bolshevik government’s scientist Vladimir Vernadsky, who published his epoch-making The Biosphere in 1926 – the term “biosphere” includes the totality of an open system that supports all life and its interaction with the atmosphere and the energy coming from the sun; Alexander Oparin, who in the early 1920s developed the main theory of the origins of life; the brilliant plant geneticist Nikolai Vavilov, who discovered the primary sources of germplasm or genetic reservoirs (known as Vavilov areas), tied to the areas of earliest human cultivation around the world. Others, such as the leading Marxist theorist and close Lenin associate Nikolai Bukharin and the historian of science Y Uranovsky, generalised such discoveries in terms of historical materialism. Bukharin, following Vernadsky, emphasised the human relation to the biosphere and the dialectical interchange between humanity and nature. Zoologist Vladimir Stanchinsky pioneered the development of the energetic analysis of ecological communities (and trophic levels), and was a leading promoter and defender of the zapovedniki (national parks). Stanchinsky was the editor of the USSR’s first formal ecology journal. Physicist Boris Hessen achieved worldwide fame for reinterpreting the history and sociology of science in historical materialist terms.

The Commissariat of Education, with Lenin’s backing, was the first in the world to establish the celebrated ecological reserves, called zapovedniki, namely, large tracts of land which were made inviolable to any form of human intervention other than ecological research. By 1933 there were thirty-three zapovedniki, encompassing altogether some 2.7 million hectares. Logging, hunting, crop cultivation and tourism were completely forbidden in these areas. Zapovedniki were linked to a nationwide network for the study and effective protection of nature.

Two days after the October Revolution, the crucial decree on land was passed, abolishing the private ownership of land. All land, forests, rivers and lakes, all natural resources became public property, so a plan could be set up for their sustainable use and renewal. In 1918 the Bolshevik government passed the decree On Forests, which set up a Central Administration of Forests of the Soviet Republic, with the mission of reforestation and sustainable forest management. Forests were divided into an exploitable and a protected sector. Another law on forests was passed in 1923, which further strengthened the protected status of forests.

In January 1919 the civil war was at its peak. The Bolshevik-controlled areas had been severely curtailed around Moscow and Petersburg. The White armies were ready to attack Moscow and Petersburg, US, British, French and Japanese troops had occupied and controlled key Soviet ports, and much of the fertile land of Ukraine was under the control of the Germans. Under this dire situation, Lenin took time to personally meet with the famous agronomist Podiapolsky. Lenin requested Podiapolsky to immediately draft national legislation for nature protection and for the establishment of the first national park. When the Soviet land was retaken by the Red Army, the decree drafted by Podiapolsky, On the Protection of Monuments of Nature, Gardens and Parks, was signed by Lenin. In 1919 Lenin had passed the decree On Hunting Seasons and the Right to Possess Hunting Weapons, which prohibited the hunting of the endangered moose and wild goats and established closed seasons for the hunting of all other animals to prevent them becoming too scarce.

The leadership of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin eliminated a number of previously influential scientists including Hessen, Vavilov and Stanchinsky. Vavilov, who [may have] criticised Trofim Lysenko’s theory of adaptive inheritance in favour of Mendel’s theory of genetic inheritance, was imprisoned, where he died a few years later of malnutrition. In 1927, the issue of using the zapovedniki for “acclimatisation” research (removal of wild and domestic plants and animals from their original habitat and placement in new habitats in an attempt to transform nature) arose in Soviet biology. Sukachev and Stanchinsky strongly defended the zapovedniki against those promoting the acclimatisation agenda, arguing that they should remain inviolable. In 1933, Stanchinsky came directly into conflict with Lysenko (and his chief ally Isaak Prezent) regarding the zapovedniki and acclimatisation, leading to Stanchinsky’s 1934 arrest, imprisonment and torture. He died in prison (after a second arrest) in 1942.

The consequences for Soviet ecological science, particularly in areas related to agriculture, were disastrous. Membership in VOOP, which had risen to 15,000 by 1932, declined to around 2,500 in 1940. The zapovedniki were converted more and more from reserves for the scientific study of pristine nature into transformation-of-nature centres.

Nevertheless, in two major areas, forestry and climatology, Soviet ecology continued to develop. One of the key intellectual achievements was Sukachev’s first introduction in 1941, developed more fully in 1944, of the concept of biogeocoenosis, which was to be extraordinarily influential both in the USSR and in the wider world. A botanist and ecologist, Sukachev had been influenced by Georgy Morozov, considered the founder of Russian scientific forestry, who died in 1920. Morozov helped introduce systemic thinking into Russian ecology, by making extensive use of the concept of biocoenosis (or biological community). Sukachev’s concept of biogeocoenosis was a further development of biocoenosis, intended to incorporate the abiotic environment. It was conceived in dialectical-energetic terms as a more unified and dynamic category than the notion of the ecosystem. The concept of biogeocoenosis grew out of and had an integral connection to Vernadsky’s notions of the biosphere and biogeochemical cycles. Sukachev wrote in his work Relationship of Biogeocoenosis, Ecosystem and Facies, dated 1960: “... each organism and each specimen is in dialectical unity with the environment. ... The biogeocoenosis as a whole develops through the interaction of all its variable components and in accordance with special laws. The very process of interaction among the components constantly disrupts the established relationships, thereby affecting the evolution of the biogeocoenosis as a whole.” Sukachev wrote in his landmark 1964 work Fundamentals of Forest Biogeocoenology (written with N Dylis): “The idea of the interaction of all natural phenomena is one of the basic premises of materialistic dialectics, well proved by the founders of the latter, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.” Like dialectical frameworks in general, Sukachev’s biogeocoenosis – even more than its main conceptual rival, ecosystem – emphasised internal dynamics, contradictory changes and instability in ecological processes.

The dialectical, integrative approach in Soviet ecology promoted by figures like Morozov and Sukachev, which was rooted in detailed empirical research into specific conditions, led to the recognition of the extent to which forest-ecological-system health was essential to hydrology and the control of climate. That broad ecological understanding helped give rise in 1948 to the “Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature”, which was conceived as a grand attempt to reverse anthropogenic regional climate change in deforested areas, with an emphasis on the promotion of watersheds. Already in 1936 the Soviet government had created the Main Administration of Forest Protection and Afforestation, which established “water-protective forests” in wide belts across the country. While forests in parts of the Soviet Union were exploited relentlessly as industrial forests, the best old growth forests of the Russian heartland were protected, eventually creating a total forest preserve the size of France, which grew over time to an area the size of Mexico (roughly two-thirds of the contiguous United States of America).

Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature, introduced in the context of the attempts at ecological restoration following the Second World War, was the most ambitious afforestation plan in all of history up to that point. It sought to create some 6 million hectares of entirely new forest in the forest-steppe and steppe regions, and constituted the world’s first explicit attempt to reverse human-induced climate change. The trees were planted in shelterbelts along rivers – and roads – and around collective farms, with the goal of staving off the drying influence of winds emanating from Central Asia, while protecting watersheds and agriculture. Although the plan had not been realised by the time of Stalin’s death (when it was discontinued), a million hectares of new forest were planted, with 40 per cent surviving. Yet, even while that afforestation plan was being carried out, some 85 per cent of the territory of the zapovedniki was formally liquidated in 1951 (to be re-established under the leadership of Sukachev and others during the resurrected conservation movement of the late 1950s).

One reason for the limited success of the Great Stalin Plan was Lysenko’s entry into forestry and his battle for control of Soviet afforestation. In 1948 Lysenko had achieved his greatest victory, with the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ declaration that Mendelian genetics was a form of bourgeois idealism. With the introduction of the Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature, Lysenko turned his attention to forestry, taking direct control of the Main Administration of Field-Protective Afforestation. He concocted a “nest method” of planting trees, based on the notion that tree seedlings planted in dense formations would collectively defend themselves from other species, reducing the amount of labour required to clear areas for planting. Here, however, Lysenko was opposed at every step by Sukachev, who countermanded his orders on the ground several times and reported to the Ministry of Forest Management in 1951 that 100 per cent of the forest seedlings planted in the Ural territorial administration with Lysenko’s nest method had died.

From 1951, two years before Stalin’s death, and continuing until 1955, Sukachev, as the dean of Soviet botany – director of the Academy of Science’s Institute of Forests, head of the Academy Presidium’s Commission on Zapovedniki, and editor of the Botanical Journal – courageously launched an intellectual war against Lysenko. In article after article that he wrote and edited for the Botanical Journal and the Bulletin of the Moscow Society of Naturalists (the journal of Russia’s oldest and most prestigious scientific society), Sukachev waged a monumental battle against Lysenko, sharply criticising Lysenko’s theories and methods. Later, in 1965, Sukachev accused Lysenko of fraudulent practices. Young biologists viewed Sukachev as a hero, and secretly flocked to his side. In 1955 Sukachev was elected president of the Moscow Society of Naturalists (MOIP), a position he occupied until his death in 1967. This symbolised a dramatic decline in Lysenko’s power and a shift in Soviet ecology (although Lysenko’s final removal as head of the Institute of Genetics took place in 1965, under Brezhnev). Following Sukachev’s election as president of the MOIP, a concerted campaign to reestablish the zapovedniki began. At that point the Soviet conservation movement began to rise out of the ashes. Membership in VOOP grew to 136,000 in 1951, and by 1959 had topped 910,000. The 1960s saw the spectacular rise of student conservation brigades nurtured by the MOIP under Sukachev.

Meanwhile, Soviet climatology had been making extraordinary advances through the work of figures such as E Fedorov, famous for his work on the Arctic, and Mikhail Budyko, who specialised initially in the emerging field of energetics, focusing on exchanges of matter and energy in a global context. Budyko’s groundbreaking Heat Balance of the Earth’s Surface, published in 1958, earned him the prestigious Lenin Prize. In that work he developed a method for calculating the various components of the heat balance of the entire earth system. This was crucial in opening the way to the founding of physical climatology as a field. Appointed in 1954 as director of Leningrad’s Main Geophysical Observatory, Budyko played a crucial role in delineating multiple aspects of the global ecological system. He was awarded the Blue Planet Prize in 1998 for founding physical climatology, formulating early warnings on the acceleration of global warming, developing the nuclear winter theory, and pioneering global ecology. Budyko built his theoretical and empirical analysis on Vernadsky’s biosphere concept and saw Sukachev’s work on the biogeocoenosis as essential in developing modern ideas of interrelations between organisms and the environment. Sukachev was to rely in turn on Budyko’s energy flow analysis in his own work.

The state of the USSR’s environment worsened in the first decade after Stalin’s death in 1953, with the discontinuation of the Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature and the more rapacious exploitation of resources. Six days after Stalin’s death, the Ministry of Forest Management was abolished and forest conservation was reduced to a much lower priority. Yet it was only in the post-Soviet era that Stalin’s Group I of protected forests, those under the highest level of protection and preservation, were signed out of existence.

The worst damage was done during the Malenkov and Khrushchev years. Partly as a result, those years saw the rise of what was to be an immense environmental movement, growing initially out of the scientific community. Khrushchev’s “Virgin Lands” programme, beginning in 1954, targeted the plowing up of 33 million hectares of so-called virgin land for the expansion of agriculture. Initial successes were obtained, but these were soon followed by dust bowls. In the late 1950s the Soviet leadership decided for the first time to interfere with the ecology of Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. In the early 1960s the Supreme Soviet Presidium ordered the diversion of the two main rivers feeding into the Aral Sea, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, in order to provide irrigation for cotton farming in Soviet Eurasia. Consequently, the Aral Sea shrank to a tenth of its original size.

Those developments were met with a powerful response from scientists and conservationists. In 1964 Sukachev, as head of the MOIP, sent a letter to Soviet geographers in order to draw them into the fight to save Lake Baikal. Two years later he was one of a group of scientists who signed a collective letter to the media demanding protection of Lake Baikal. Baikal became a symbol of ecological destruction, leading to the extraordinary growth of the Soviet environmental movement. By 1981, VOOP membership had risen to 32 million and by 1985 to 37 million, constituting the largest nature protection organisation in the world. In the 1960s, beginning with Brezhnev, significant environmental legislation was passed. During the Brezhnev to Gorbachev years, the Soviet leadership introduced more and more environmental measures. The number of zapovedniki by 1983 had gradually expanded to 143, beyond the 128 that existed in 1951, before the great bulk were liquidated under Stalin.

Fedorov, one of the leading climatologists, headed the Institute of Applied Geophysics of the State Committee of the USSR on Hydrometeorology and Control of the Natural Environment and became a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Like most Soviet ecologists at the time, Fedorov accepted some aspects of the Club of Rome’s 1972 Limits to Growth argument, which focused on natural-resource limits to economic growth. But he insisted on an approach that more fully accounted for social and historical factors. Moreover, he argued that the authors of The Limits to Growth had erred in failing to consider the crucial challenge represented by climate change. Fedorov’s arguments relied directly on Marx’s theory of socio-ecological metabolism. He presented a Marxist environmental perspective in his 1972 work Man and Nature, writing in it: “The authors of the materialist theory of social development regarded interaction (metabolism) between people and nature as a vital element in human life and activity, and showed that the socialist organisation of society would have every possibility to ensure optimal forms of such interaction.” With respect to climate, he pointed to Marx and Engels’s early discussions of anthropogenic climate change on a regional basis (and the threat of desertification). Fedorov represented the USSR at the first World Conference on Climate in Geneva in 1979, where he stressed the urgency of action, declaring that “future climate changes are unavoidable. They will probably become irreversible during the nearest decades if an international plan were not soon worked out.”

However, the scientific revolutions in climatology and global ecology in the Soviet Union had their main origins in the work of Budyko, who was the acknowledged world leader in the study of the heat balance of the earth. He was also the world’s primary analyst of the effect of polar ice on the climate, and was the first to delineate the ice-albedo effect as a global warming feedback mechanism. Budyko was also the first to point to the dangerous acceleration in global average temperature that would result from such positive feedback. He went on to pioneer studies of paleoclimatic changes in earth’s history and to developing global ecology as a distinct field, based on a dialectical, biospheric analysis, in the tradition of Vernadsky and Sukachev. Budyko promoted a theory of “critical epochs” in earth’s history, which were characterised by “ecological crises” and “global catastrophes”, and he extended this theoretical analysis to the growing threat of “anthropogenic ecological crisis”.

In 1961 Fedorov and Budyko called the All-Union Conference on the Problem of Climate Modification by Man in Leningrad to address the emerging problem of climate change, the first such conference in the world. That same year Budyko presented his work The Heat and Water Balance Theory of the Earth’s Surface to the third congress of the Geographical Society of the USSR, in which he arrived at his famous conclusion that anthropogenic climate change was inevitable under capitalism, and that human energy usage needed to be addressed. In 1962 he published his landmark work Climate Change and the Means of Its Transformation in the USSR’s Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences, in which that conclusion was again advanced, together with the observation that the destruction of ice cover could generate a significant change in the regime of atmospheric circulation. By 1963 Budyko compiled an atlas of the world’s heat balance system. “Budyko energy balance models” soon became the basis of all complex climate models. In 1966 he published (together with colleagues) The Impact of Economic Activity on the Climate, describing the history of anthropogenic climate change. In it he indicated that human beings – through actions such as deforestation, swamp drainage and city construction – had long affected the microclimate, that is, local changes in the meteorological regime of the surface layer of the atmosphere. What was new, however, was that anthropogenic climate change was now occurring over large territories and globally. Yet, it was the discovery of ice-albedo feedback and its dynamic effect on global warming that was to change everything.

Budyko had presented his basic analysis on this as early as 1962, in his work Polar Ice and Climate. But the extent to which the global climate, and not just the climate of the Arctic, would be affected was not yet clear. It was in his 1969 work, The Effect of Solar Radiation Variation on the Climate of the Earth, that he provided a full and concrete assessment of the polar sea ice-albedo feedback mechanism and its relation to climate change. The observations were startling. Similar results on climate sensitivity, pointing to catastrophic global climate change were presented that same year by William Sellers at the University of Arizona. From that point on, climate change moved from being a peripheral concern to an increasingly urgent global issue.

Meanwhile, Budyko’s explorations of the effects of aerosol loading, led him to introduce the possibility of using planes to dump aerosols (sulphur particles) in the stratosphere as a possible geoengineering attempt to counter climate change, given his belief that capitalist economies would not be able to limit their growth, energy use and emissions. All of these conclusions were expressed in his 1972 book Climate and Life. The discovery of significant feedback effects and greater climate sensitivity now posed the question of a potential runaway global ecological crisis in the approaching decades. It was Soviet climatologists, primarily based on the works of Budyko and Golitsyn, who first developed the nuclear winter theory in the case of a full-scale nuclear war, whereby over a hundred gargantuan firestorms set off by nuclear weapons would increase the aerosol loading in the atmosphere sufficiently to bring temperatures across whole continents down by several degrees and possibly several tens of degrees, thereby leading to the destruction of the biosphere and human extinction. That analysis was developed by the Soviets a decade before their counterparts in other countries.

The enormous range and comprehensiveness of Budyko’s ecological contributions were particularly evident in his later work, where he sought to define global ecology as a distinct field. He played a foundational role in the development of paleoclimatic analysis, examining the history of global catastrophes in earth’s history associated with alterations in the climate. He used this analysis to develop further insights into the significance of anthropogenic climate change. In describing global ecology as a distinct area of analysis, he emphasised that previous ecological work had been directed overwhelmingly at local conditions, or at most an aggregate of local changes. Global ecology, by contrast, was that area of ecology concerned with the operation of the biosphere as a whole, and had arisen as a result of the sudden increase in the human capacity to alter atmospheric and ocean systems.

Here again the emphasis was on the dialectical interaction between organisms and the environment. Budyko stressed Oparin’s crucial observation (associated with his theory of life’s origins) that organisms had generated the atmosphere as we know it, extrapolating this to a consideration of the human role with respect to the atmosphere. In his various analyses of the evolution of homo sapiens, Budyko invariably went back to Engels’s work The Part Played by Labour in the Transformation from Ape to Man, written in his book Dialectics of Nature, of what is now known as “gene-culture coevolution”. Likewise, Budyko’s Global Ecology pointed to Marx’s comment in a letter to Engels on the desertification tendencies of civilisation. All ecological analysis, Budyko indicated, was modeled on metabolism, the process of material exchange between life and the environment.

Some of Budyko’s early heat balance work had been carried out together with the leading Soviet geographers A Grigoriev and Innokenti Gerasimov. The goal was a more integral dialectical science, capable of addressing the evolution of the biosphere. Budyko and Gerasimov postulated that it was paleoclimatic change that had created the dynamic conditions millions of years ago in Africa for the evolution of the early hominids. In Geography and Ecology, dated 1977, a collection of his essays from the 1970s, Gerasimov provided an elegant theoretical merger of the notion of geographic landscape with Sukachev’s biogeocoenosis. In his analysis of the social aspects of what he considered to be the approaching global ecological crisis, Budyko emphasised the limits posed by the capitalist system. All economic expansion is constrained by the fact that the stability of the global ecological system is not very great. He argued there was no way out of this dilemma except through economic and ecological planning, namely, a socialist planned economy aimed at the realisation of Vernadsky’s “noosphere”, i.e., an environment ruled by reason.

Soviet economists in the 1970s and ’80s were engaged in a fierce debate over the proper relation of economic growth calculations to social welfare. Oldak took a leading role in those years in arguing for the replacement of the standard economic growth calculations with a new approach focusing on “gross social wealth” as the basis for socio-economic decisions. Lenin, Oldak pointed out, had made it clear that the goal of socialism should be the free development of each member of the population on the widest possible (i.e., not narrowly economistic or mechanistic) basis, taking account of qualitative factors. With this as justification, Oldak proposed a new accounting that would directly incorporate into the main planning criteria not only accumulated material wealth, but also services, the knowledge sector, the condition of natural resources, and the health of the population.

In 1986-1987, Frolov became the editor in chief of Kommunist, the Communist Party’s main theoretical organ; from 1987-1989 he was one of Gorbachev’s key advisors; and in 1989-1991 he was editor in chief of Pravda. Frolov was responsible for much of the ecological cast that Gorbachev gave to his public pronouncements, which were accompanied by a speeding up of environmental reform measures. Following 1986, the Soviet environmental movement became more powerful. In addition to VOOP, some 300 major environmental organisations were operating throughout the USSR. From 1987 to 1990, all across the USSR, plants were closed, planned projects were re-sited or re-tooled for a less polluting type of production, or were cancelled altogether. The most prominent examples included the cessation of work on the planned river diversion projects, cancellation of the Volga-Chograi canal, closing of biochemical plants. Environmental movement pressure resulted in the closing down of over a thousand large enterprises in those years. Already in the 1960s the country had begun to shift from coal as its main energy source to natural gas. In 1988 carbon emissions peaked. They fell dramatically in two years after that, due chiefly to the aggressive switchover from coal to natural gas. Nevertheless, the much wider shift in power relations in the Soviet state and the destabilisation of the society that Gorbachev had introduced with glasnost and perestroika led to a deepening of Soviet political-economic contradictions, splits in the top echelons of the Soviet leadership, and finally the demise of the USSR in 1991.

Late Soviet ecology left a legacy of economic planning and an emergent ecological planning that represented a massive human achievement, from which we need to learn today if we are to find a way to regulate the human metabolism with nature and to surmount the present global ecological crisis. It began a process of ecological transition that, if carried out fully, could have had immeasurable positive effects. The American Marxist economist Paul Sweezy, wrote in his work Socialism and Ecology, dated 1989, that if “the planning system” represented by such societies would not be preserved “and adapted to serve the needs of the new situation” and if the existing socialist societies were defeated, it might simply be “too late for civilised humanity to restore the necessary conditions for its own survival.” This is a spectre that haunts us today more than ever. The answer to our present problems requires some sort of convergence with the notion of the planned regulation of the environment in accordance with human needs: the primary message of late Soviet ecology. In other words, humanity needs socialism.

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