Marx’s Ecology in the 21st Century

An article by: Brett Clark and John Bellamy Foster

“We contend that Marx’s materialist and metabolic approach, his emphasis on the contradiction between use value and exchange value and between wealth and accumulation, his focus on sustainable human development, and his critique of capital as a whole, provide an invaluable methodological foundation to critique contemporary environmental degradation and to envision social and ecological transformation. To emphasize the importance of Marx’s ecological dialectic is clearly not the same thing as saying that he specifically addressed all of the complex ecological problems that we now confront. Furthermore, we are not putting forth the absurd notion that “the original Marxian canon” is in itself “the true and sufficient guide to save nature from capitalism.” Nevertheless, it is our contention that Marx’s ecology provides us with a critical method (in the spirit of Lukács’s claim that orthodoxy in Marxism relates chiefly to method) for engaging with the main limitation of contemporary ecological thought: its inability to develop a dialectical ecological materialism that relates the “problem of nature” back to the problem of society.”

“In order to transcend these shortcomings, the second stage of ecosocialist theory sought to return to the roots, going back to Marx, in order “to understand the ecological context of his materialism”

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