Recently the Socialist History Society hosted Monthly Review‘s Editor, John Bellamy Foster, for a virtual launch of The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology. In this award-winning work Foster lays out a challenge to common narratives advanced in leftist arenas, and embedded within the popular imagination, about the origins and development of the environmental movement and the field of ecology. Until recently many leftist theorists tended to understand materialism solely in economic terms, arguing almost on principle that historical materialism had nothing to do with ecology. The wider public, in turn, tended to presume that ecology fundamentally originated with early scientific Malthusian theories.
On the contrary, as Foster demonstrates in The Return of Nature and throughout his talk at the Socialist History Society, the development of ecology as a critical perspective arose from the socialist and materialist critique of capitalist extraction and industrialization, producing complex dialectical analyses that led to the emergence of systems ecology and revolutionary transcendence of existing social forms. For more, you can watch John Bellamy Foster’s recent talk below or here.