Marx's Ecology: Recovered Legacy

Löwy, Michael

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/05/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23322

Löwy says that while mainstream ecologicail theory has been dismissive of Karl Marx, serious research in recent decades has recovered some of his very important insights on ecological issues.




In several other writings, however, and in particular those concerning agriculture in the three volumes of Capital, one can perceive key elements for a truly ecological approach, through a radical criticism of the disastrous results of capitalist productivism.

As John Bellamy Foster has show with great acumen, we can find in Marx's writings a theory of the metabolic rift between human societies and nature, as a consequence of the destructive logic of capital (Foster 2001, 155-167). The expression Riss des Stoffwechsels, metabolic rift - a break in the material exchanges between humanity and the environment - appears for instance in chapter 47, "Genesis of the Capitalist Ground Rent" in Capital, Volume III:

"Large landed property reduces the agricultural population to an ever increasing minimum and confronts it with an ever growing industrial population crammed rogether in large towns; in this way it produces conditions that provçke an irreparable rift in the interdependent process of social metabolism, a metabolism prescribed by the natural laws of life itself." (Marx 1981, 949)

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