Nature, Labor, and the Rise of Capitalism

Empson, Martin
Date Written:  2017-05-01
Publisher:  Monthly Review
Year Published:  2017
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20761

The nature of capitalism puts it at war with Nature.



Capitalism has, to put it mildly, a peculiar relationship with the natural world. Karl Marx perhaps summarized it best in the Grundrisse, where he wrote that with the rise of the capitalist mode of production, "for the first time, nature becomes purely an object for humankind, purely a matter of utility; ceases to be recognized as a power for itself; and the theoretical discovery of its autonomous laws appears merely as a ruse so as to subjugate it under human needs, whether as an object of consumption or as a means of production." In the same section, Marx notes that "capital creates the bourgeois society, and the universal appropriation of nature as well as of the social bond itself by the members of society."
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