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Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy


Forthcoming in August 2017

Karl Marx, author of what is perhaps the world’s most resounding and significant critique of bourgeois political economy, has frequently been described as a “Promethean.” According to critics, Marx held an inherent belief in the necessity of humans to dominate the natural world, in order to end material want and create a new world of fulfillment and abundance—a world where nature is mastered, not by anarchic capitalism, but by a planned socialist economy. Understandably, this perspective has come under sharp attack, not only from mainstream environmentalists but also from ecosocialists, many of whom reject Marx outright.

Kohei Saito’s Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism lays waste to accusations of Marx’s ecological shortcomings. Delving into Karl Marx’s central works, as well as his natural scientific notebooks—published only recently and still being translated—Saito also builds on the works of scholars such as John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett, to argue that Karl Marx actually saw the environmental crisis embedded in capitalism. “It is not possible to comprehend the full scope of [Marx’s] critique of political economy,” Saito writes, “if one ignores its ecological dimension.”

Saito’s book is crucial today, as we face unprecedented ecological catastrophes—crises that cannot be adequately addressed without a sound theoretical framework. Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism shows us that Marx has given us more than we once thought, that we can now come closer to finishing Marx’s critique, and to building a sustainable ecosocialist world.

Saito’s book is marked by a deep knowledge of Marxist theory, especially the debate over Marxism and ecology. Saito brings a major new source into the debate: Marx’s forthcoming notebooks on ecology. This results in a new interpretation of Marx, one that is timely, given the economic and ecological crises of contemporary capitalism.

—Kevin B. Anderson, author, Marx at the Margins

There are already important studies about ecological aspects in Marx’s theory, but Kohei Saito is the first to go deeply into Marx’s notebooks, discussing Marx’s research process. Saito has not only an excellent knowledge of Marx’s oeuvre, he is also occupied with Marx’s sources. He provides an exciting journey, showing how deeply ecological questions are connected to Marx’s unfinished project of a ‘Critique of Political Economy’.

—Michael Heinrich, author, An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital

Kohei Saito received his Ph.D. from Humboldt University in Berlin. He is currently a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow and visiting scholar at the University of California Santa Barbara. He has published articles and reviews on Marx’s ecology, including “The Emergence of Marx’s Critique of Modern Agriculture,” and “Marx’s Ecological Notebooks,” both in Monthly Review. He is working on editing the complete works of Marx and Engels, Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) Volume IV/18, which includes a number of Marx’s natural scientific notebooks.

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Paperback ISBN: 9781583676400

Cloth ISBN: 9781583676417

eBook ISBN: 9781583676424

Publication Date: August 2017

Number of Pages: 368