Top Menu

The Civil War in the United States by Karl Marx

Marx and Slavery

This article will be released in full online August 24, 2020.

The rise to prominence of analyses of racial capitalism represents a breakthrough in Marxian theory. This has necessarily been accompanied by a critique of previous Marxian analyses, which all too often ignored or minimized the relation of slavery to capitalism. In recent years, however, these criticisms of orthodox Marxist treatments of slavery have been extended, much more problematically, to the work of Karl Marx himself. Although Marx never wrote a treatise on slavery, the issue of slave labor was woven into his analysis of social formations, both ancient and modern, and was inextricably intertwined with his treatment of wage labor. | more…

Global logistics concept illustration

COVID-19 and Catastrophe Capitalism

Commodity Chains and Ecological-Epidemiological-Economic Crises

Since the late twentieth century, capitalist globalization has increasingly adopted the form of interlinked commodity chains controlled by multinational corporations, connecting various production zones, primarily in the Global South, with the apex of world consumption, finance, and accumulation primarily in the Global North. COVID-19 has accentuated as never before the interlinked ecological, epidemiological, and economic vulnerabilities imposed by capitalism. | more…

The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology

Twenty years ago, John Bellamy Foster’s Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature introduced a new understanding of Karl Marx’s revolutionary ecological materialism. More than simply a study of Marx, it commenced an intellectual and social history, encompassing thinkers from Epicurus to Darwin, who developed materialist and ecological ideas. Now, with The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology, Foster continues this narrative. In so doing, he uncovers a long history of efforts to unite issues of social justice and environmental sustainability that will help us comprehend and counter today’s unprecedented planetary emergencies. | more…

Workers at a mine in Knockmahon, County Waterford, Ireland in 1906

The Rift of Éire

Karl Marx’s (and Frederick Engels’s) analysis of nineteenth-century Irish history revealed what is referred to as “the rift of Éire” in the colonial period. Indeed, it is in relation to the analysis of the systematic disruption of the Irish environment that Marx’s ecological inquiries can be seen as taking on a concrete and developed form, encompassing the ecological as well as economic robbery that characterized the Irish colonial regime. | more…

The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift

In the nineteenth century, Karl Marx, inspired by the German chemist Justus von Liebig, argued that capitalism’s relation to its natural environment was that of a robbery system, leading to an irreparable rift in the metabolism between humanity and nature. In the twenty-first century, these classical insights into capitalism’s degradation of the earth have become the basis of extraordinary advances in critical theory and practice associated with contemporary ecosocialism. In The Robbery of Nature, John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, working within this historical tradition, examine capitalism’s plundering of nature via commodity production, and how it has led to the current anthropogenic rift in the Earth System. | more…

Daytime in Indian Creek, the Sixshooter Peaks in Bears Ears National Monument

Capitalism and Robbery

The Expropriation of Land, Labor, and Corporeal Life

Historical capitalism cannot be understood aside from its existence as a colonial/imperialist world system in which the violent exercise of power is an ever-present reality. In order to uncover the material conditions governing concrete capitalism, including its interface with land, nonwage labor, and corporeal life, it is therefore necessary to go beyond the inner reality of exploitation, and address expropriation, or the process of appropriation without equivalent (or without reciprocity) through which capital has sought to determine its wider parameters. | more…

A 2015 demonstration of German radical right group Pegida.

The Rise of the Right

In an interview with Farooque Chowdhury, Monthly Review editor John Bellamy Foster speaks about the historical conditions associated with the rise of new far-right movements of a broadly neofascist character. What we are witnessing, especially in the advanced capitalist world, is the development of a neoliberal-neofascist alliance, reflecting the decline of the liberal-democratic state. Neofascism is the most dangerous and volatile phenomenon in this emerging right-wing historical bloc. All of this has to be seen in relation to the structural crisis of capitalism and growing ruling-class attempts to restructure the state-capital relationship so as to create regimes more exclusively for capital. | more…

Anti-imperialism mural in Caracas, Venezuela

Late Imperialism

Fifty Years After Harry Magdoff's The Age of Imperialism

The globalization of production (and finance)—which emerged along with neoliberalism out of the economic stagnation of the mid–1970s and then accelerated with the demise of Soviet-type societies and China’s reintegration into the capitalist world system—has generated a more generalized monopoly capitalism, ushering in what can be called late imperialism. Late imperialism refers to the present period of monopoly-finance capital and stagnation, declining U.S. hegemony and rising world conflict, accompanied by growing threats to the ecological bases of civilization and life itself. It stands at its core for the extreme, hierarchical relations governing the capitalist world economy in the twenty-first century, which is increasingly dominated by mega-multinational corporations and a handful of states at the center of the world system. Just as it is now common to refer to late capitalism in recognition of the end times brought on by simultaneous economic and ecological dislocations, so it is necessary today to speak of late imperialism, reflecting the global dimensions and contradictions of that system, cutting across all other divisions, and posing a “global rift” in human historical development: an epochal crisis posing the question of “ruin or revolution.” | more…

Planet on Fire

Imperialism in the Anthropocene

Today there can be no doubt about the main force behind our ongoing planetary emergency: the exponential growth of the capitalist world economy, particularly in the decades since the mid–twentieth century. The mere critique of capitalism as an abstract economic system, however, is insufficient in addressing today’s environmental problems. Rather, it is necessary also to examine the structure of accumulation on a world scale, coupled with the division of the world into competing nation-states. Our planetary problems cannot realistically be addressed without tackling the imperialist world system, or globalized capitalism, organized on the basis of classes and nation-states, and divided into center and periphery. Today, this necessarily raises the question of imperialism in the Anthropocene. | more…