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Monthly Review Volume 70, Number 3 (July-August 2018)

July-August 2018 (Volume 70, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

This special issue is dedicated to developing the ecological critique embodied in Marx’s theory of “metabolic rift.” Each article uses the metabolic rift perspective to uncover core contradictions of capitalism, as well as possible paths toward a new system—one that will meet human needs while protecting the earth and future generations. | more…

A 19th-century illustration depicts a scene off the coast of Peru, where bird poop, or guano, was harvested

The Robbery of Nature

Capitalism and the Metabolic Rift

Marx’s notion of “the robbery of the soil” is intrinsically connected to the rift in the metabolism between human beings and the earth. To get at the complexities of his metabolic rift theory, it is useful to look separately at the issues of the robbery and the rift, seen as separate moments in a single development. | more…

Buried machinery in a barn lot; Dallas, South Dakota, May 1936

No Empires, No Dust Bowls

Ecological Disasters and the Lessons of History

When scientists describe the increase of Dust Bowl-like conditions under climate change, they signal a particular kind of violent ecological and social change. But equally violent are the social forces, historical developments, policies, and practices that produce such massive socioecological crises in the first place. | more…

Monster soup commonly called Thames water, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us!

Cesspools, Sewage, and Social Murder

Environmental Crisis and Metabolic Rift in Nineteenth-Century London

The accumulation of human excrement in nineteenth-century cities, particularly London, precipitated a historic environmental crisis—an aspect of the metabolic rift mostly overlooked in ecosocialist analysis. The solution that was finally adopted only shifted the problem out of sight, setting the stage for even greater crises in our time. | more…

Nutrient pollution caused by Surface runoff of soil and fertilizer during a rain storm (1999)

Land–Sea Ecological Rifts

A Metabolic Analysis of Nutrient Loading

Increasing rates of nitrogen and phosphorus application have caused severe damage to aquatic systems, as rivers, streams, lakes, bays, and ocean systems have been inundated with nutrient runoff. Only by addressing the metabolic rupture in the soil nutrient cycle and the contradictions of capital can we begin to mend these land–sea rifts. | more…

Marx Proudhon and European socialism

Marx, Value, and Nature

In recent years ecological critiques of capitalism have deepened and multiplied, resulting in new debates over the conception, scope, and purpose of Marx’s value theory and its relation to the natural world. | more…

New this week!
Justus von Liebig

On English Farming and Sewers

If the British people do not take the pains to secure the natural conditions of the permanent fertility of their land, if they allow these conditions as hitherto to be squandered, their fields will at no distant day cease to yield their returns of corn and meat. | more…

Apparatus for organic elemental analysis used by Justus von Liebig

1862 Preface to Agricultural Chemistry

This article will be made available online on August 20, 2018.

I have had abundant opportunity of estimating the impediments which stand in the way of scientific doctrines passing into the domain of practical Agriculture. The reason of which is, especially, that no connexion was formed between Practice and Science. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 70, Number 2 (June 2018)

June 2018 (Volume 70, Number 2)

With the eruption in March of the scandal around Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, articles raising the alarm on “surveillance capitalism” are suddenly everywhere. The term, which was coined in MR in August of 2014, was developed to highlight the links between digital spying systems and contemporary capitalism as a whole. Academic interpretations of the concept effectively divorced surveillance capitalism from class analysis, and from the overall political-economic structure of capitalism—as if surveillance could be abstracted from monopoly-finance capital as a whole. | more…