Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique

Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique

Language: English

Pages: 308

ISBN: 1608467058

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Over a decade ago Foster and Burkett introduced a revolutionary understanding of the ecological foundations of Marx’s thought, demonstrating that Marx’s concepts of the universal metabolism of nature, social metabolism, and metabolic rift prefigured much of modern systems ecology. In this volume, Foster and Burkett expand on this analysis in the process of responding to recent ecosocialist criticisms of Marx.

Trees for Gardens, Orchards, and Permaculture











criticisms. A close study of the development of Marx’s thought in this area will therefore serve to highlight the dualistic mode of thinking that characterises much of contemporary ecology. At the same time, it will demonstrate the power of Marx’s own ecological method and how it might serve as a guiding thread for a more revolutionary ecological praxis. The Critique of ‘Marx’s Inorganic Body’ The term organic more than any other serves to denote the aspirations of philosophical ecology. Within

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discovery of the principle of the conservation of energy was rooted in concerns that arose out of the labour theory of value of classical economics (see Mead 1936, pp. 243– 6). 82 chapter 1 there is [expressed in Liebig’s thought] a beautiful connection between the organic and the inorganic kingdoms of nature. It is inorganic matter mainly which affords food to plants, and they, on the other hand, yield the means of subsistence to animals.102 These scientific developments were to exert a

characterised by Podolinsky as ‘free gifts of nature’). Nor did Podolinsky consider the fact that not all energy inputs and outputs in agriculture (least of all in forests and in natural pastures) can be measured simply in terms of the energy embodied in the desired product, because natural systems, even when simplified by humans, are more complex than that. Taken together, these points raise serious obstacles to the kind of energy calculations that Podolinsky advanced. And these obstacles are

values, and neither these use values nor the human labour and natural conditions that produce them can be reduced to pure energy terms. There is, moreover, no stable, one-to-one relationship between abstract, value-creating labour and concrete labour expended (even assuming that the latter can be reduced to pure energy) either intertemporally or across different firms and industries.50 In short, although Podolinsky’s attempt to measure the energy productivity of labour was revealing in many

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