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Ecology

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…

New this week!
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

This article will be made available online on July 30, 2018.

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…

Justus von Liebig

On English Farming and Sewers

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

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…

Overview of food and nutrition security in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Politics of Food in Venezuela

Few countries and political processes have been subject to such scrutiny, yet so generally misunderstood, as Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution. This is particularly true today, as the international media paints an image of absolute devastation in the country, wrought by failed policies and government mismanagement. One way to comprehend the complexities of what is happening in Venezuela today—missed entirely by the dominant, mainstream narrative—is by homing in on the dynamics around Venezuela’s most highly consumed staple foods. | more…

Ecosocialism

Marx’s Ecological Education

Kohei Saito’s Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capitalism, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy shows convincingly that Marx’s ideas about the interaction between humanity and nature did not arrive fully formed, but arose from his rigorous engagement with science and philosophy. His insights still offer unparalleled tools to understand capitalism’s current assault on the environment. | more…

Black Women Will Not Be Intimidated

Invisible Exploitation

How Capital Extracts Value Beyond Wage Labor

An expanded Marxist understanding of capitalist exploitation is long overdue. There are many pathways of surplus extraction beyond the wage form, and understanding them is a task with profound implications for anticapitalist movements around the world. | more…

The Biofuels Deception: Going Hungry on the Green Carbon Diet

The Biofuels Deception: Going Hungry on the Green Carbon Diet

Forthcoming in July 2018

There is by now no question among informed people that the Earth is undergoing severe climate change—soon to become catastrophic, if humans don’t take drastic measures to stop it. Heroically into the fray steps the biofuel industry, announcing to millions of anxious consumers that this eco-crisis can be averted if only they turn away from fossil fuels, to the saving power of synthetic bioproducts. But, although eliminating fossil fuels is essential, the manufacture of biofuels has far more to do with sating profit-hungry corporations than with saving the Earth. Combining meticulous scientific narrative with devastating economic analysis, The Biofuels Deception argues that the seemingly innovative, hopeful campaign for “green energy” is actually driven by bio-technology industries and global grain-trading corporations. | more…

A Foodie's Guide to Capitalism: Understanding the Political Economy of What We Eat

A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism: Understanding the Political Economy of What We Eat

Capitalism drives our global food system. Everyone who wants to end hunger, who wants to eat good, clean, healthy food, needs to understand capitalism. This book will help do that. In his latest book, Eric Holt-Giménez takes on the social, environmental, and economic crises of the capitalist mode of food production. Drawing from classical and modern analyses, A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism introduces the reader to the history of our food system and to the basics of capitalism. In straightforward prose, Holt-Giménez explains the political economics of why—even as local, organic, and gourmet food have spread around the world—billions go hungry in the midst of abundance; why obesity is a global epidemic; and why land-grabbing, global warming, and environmental pollution are increasing. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 69, Number 6 (November 2017)

November 2017 (Volume 69, Number 6)

Over the last three decades, Monthly Review has stood out as a major source of ecosocialist analysis. This has been especially evident in recent months, with the publication by Monthly Review Press of three pathbreaking books: Kohei Saito, Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy; Ian Angus, A Redder Shade of Green: Intersections of Science and Socialism; and Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams, Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation. | more…

Cuban farmers planting sweet potato crop.

The Long Ecological Revolution

From an ecological perspective, the Anthropocene marks the need for a more creative, constructive, and coevolutionary relation to the earth. In ecosocialist theory, this demands the reconstitution of society at large—over decades and centuries. However, given the threat to the earth as a place of human habitation this transformation requires immediate reversals in the regime of accumulation. | more…

Genes

The Divisive Gene

Despite its grip on the scientific culture of affluent societies, the reign of the gene as the supposed “secret of life” is coming to an end. The more we learn about natural systems the clearer it becomes that genes are only one class of factors influencing phenotypic development and evolution. | more…