Ecology and value theory
Date Written: 2017-01-03
Publisher: International Socialism
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20542
A review of Jason W Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital.
Jason W Moore’s Capitalism in the Web of Life sets itself the challenge of locating an account of capitalist commodity production inspired by Karl Marx within the biological, chemical and geological totality we normally call “nature”. The ambition of the book is therefore immense. Moore proposes a method for understanding world history that shows how economic development is connected to “long-wave” ecological transformations. At a time when humanity faces profound and simultaneous ecological and economic crises, Moore proposes a kind of meta-theory that explains them as the outcomes of a single logic.
Ultimately, however, Capitalism in the Web of Life fails to provide a satisfying account of what Moore calls “nature-in-capitalism and capitalism-in-nature”. In the process he butchers the tools Marx developed for understanding the dynamics of capitalism. In this way Capitalism in the Web of Life muddles the very theory we most need to understand—and destroy—the system that brings both the global economy, and the Earth system itself, to the brink of destruction.