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Ecology

Shamrocks and Oil Slicks: A People’s Uprising Against Shell Oil in County Mayo, Ireland

County Mayo, Ireland, is spectacularly beautiful. Dolphins, whales, and seals frolic in bays, rivers teem with salmon. Into this tranquil, unspoiled region, in early 2002, came Shell Oil, announcing plans to build a gas refinery. Shell promised wonderful things: new jobs, improved roads, money for schools. Church officials called this project a “godsend,” while honest, hard-working families, who had lived in Mayo for generations, certainly saw no harm in the project. But when the citizens of County Mayo realized what Shell actually intended to do, they rose up. Shamrocks & Oil Slicks tells the story of County Mayo—the fishermen, farmers, teachers, business people—who, motivated by love for their environment, their community, and their country, fought one of the planet’s most powerful destroyers to a standstill. | 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…

superbugs

Superbugs in the Anthropocene

A Profit-Driven Plague

The promise of a world without disease has been replaced by warnings of evermore virulent pathogens, created by the very drugs that were supposed to save us. Scarcely a day passes without more news of people contracting infections or infectious diseases that cannot be cured by the strongest medicines available. Antimicrobial Resistance is a global health crisis driven by two major factors: the spectacular ability of bacteria to adapt to threats, and a pharmaceutical industry and health care system that puts profit before people. In addition to devastating climate change, the Anthropocene may be defined by epidemics that medicine cannot cure. | more…

US Primary energy consumption by source and sector 2017

Energy, Economic Growth, and Ecological Crisis

Can economic growth continue forever? This relatively simple question has posed some intellectual headaches for modern capitalism. Capital cannot tolerate any limits—that is, the drive for growth and the search for new markets are both necessary for the political and economic survival of capitalism. Viewed in this light, the implications of the question present something of an existential challenge to the current order. Capitalism cannot acknowledge any natural limits to economic growth, for that would mean acknowledging its ultimate demise. To keep up the pretense that capitalism represents a quasi-eternal and invincible system, most political leaders and economists who support the current order have begun reciting a series of elaborate narratives about the relationship between human economies and the natural world. | more…

How the World Works: The Story of Human Labor from Prehistory to the Modern Day

Forthcoming in January 2020

Few authors are able to write cogently in both the scientific and the economic spheres. Even fewer possess the intellectual scope needed to address science and economics at a macro as well as a micro level. But Paul Cockshott, using the dual lenses of Marxist economics and technological advance, has managed to pull off a stunningly acute critical perspective of human history, from pre-agricultural societies to the present. In How the World Works, Cockshott connects scientific, economic, and societal strands to produce a sweeping and detailed work of historical analysis. This book will astound readers of all backgrounds and ages; it will also will engage scholars of history, science, and economics for years to come. | more…

The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology

Forthcoming in January 2020

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…

The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift

Forthcoming in February 2020

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…

Members of the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee

Marx, Animals, and Humans

A Reply to My Critics

The December 2018 issue of Monthly Review featured John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark’s “Marx and Alienated Speciesism” and Christian Stache’s “On the Origins of Animalist Marxism: Rereading: Ted Benton and the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844,” both of which take up Ted Benton’s work on animals and Marxism. Here Ted Benton offers a response to the critiques offered by Foster and Clark, and Stache. | more…

Municipal Airport, Ukiah, California, July 27, 2018

The Criminal Dimension of Climate Change

Peter D. Carter and Elizabeth Woodworth, Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2017), 270 pages, $27.95, paperback.

Unprecedented Crime, a book by Peter Carter and Elizabeth Woodworth, with a foreword by leading climate scientist James Hansen, outlines the criminality of those who actively promote the continuing emission of carbon gases into the atmosphere despite having full knowledge of the consequences. These consequences include the breakdown of large ice sheets, rising sea levels, and the intensification of extreme weather events around the world, such as hurricanes, floods, and fires. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 70, Number 9 (February 2019)

February 2019 (Volume 70, Number 9)

Notes from the Editors

Climatologist James Hansen’s 2018 “Climate Change in a Nutshell: The Gathering Storm,” known as the Nutshell document, is the single most important analysis currently available for general readers seeking to stay abreast of the science and politics of global warming. Nevertheless, denial of the extent of the conflict between capitalism and the climate remains pervasive. Such views were subjected to a strong refutation by Enno Schröder and Servaas Storm in a November 2018 paper entitled “Economic Growth and Carbon Emissions: The Road to ‘Hothouse Earth’ Is Paved With Good Intentions.” | more…