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Marxist Ecology

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…

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

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…

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…

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…

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

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

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. | more…