Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Ecological Rift Reviewed

John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York
The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth
Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010. 544pp., $17.95 pb
ISBN 9781583672181

Reviewed by Matthijs Krul
Marx and Philosophy
August 30, 2011



In the last few decades, there has been a renewed interest in exploring issues of ecology and sustainability from a Marxist perspective. Partially inspired by the ecological movement more widely, partially by the revival of Marxist economic theory since the 1980s, the topic of 'Marx and ecology' has been given wide attention in a range of publications in recent years.

All three of the authors of the present book have earned their stripes in this field of research, and in particular John Bellamy Foster has been influential in putting ecological questions on the agenda of socialist politics, a tradition that had hitherto often been hostile to the claims of (middle class) 'green' campaigners. That capitalism is incompatible with the demands of our ecosystem and the existence of a self-sustaining environment free from exploitation is now taken for granted by socialists of whatever kind in most of the world, even in China; and yet this is a thought that had largely lain dormant since the period of the Second International.

Its revival in recent years is in many ways for a significant part due to the above authors, and this book can be seen as the culmination of their efforts in the theoretical development of the implications of Marxism for understanding what Marx called the 'metabolism' between mankind and nature. The 'metabolic rift' that capitalism has opened is, according to the authors, due to the incompatibility of the drive for perpetual growth and accumulation with the requirements of the environment as the basis for life.

Read more HERE.

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