Foster%20-%20Ecology%20and%20transition%20copy

Foster%20-%20Ecology%20and%20transition%20copy - Ecology...

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1 Ecology and the transition from capitalism to socialism John Bellamy Foster http://links.org.au/node/742 [This article, which first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Monthly Review , is a revised version of a keynote address delivered at the “Climate Change, Social Change” conference, Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2008, organised by Green Left Weekly . It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. Watch and listen to Bellamy Foster's presentation HERE . For more articles on Marxism and the ecology, click HERE .] The transition from capitalism to socialism is the most difficult problem of socialist theory and practice. To add to this the question of ecology might therefore be seen as unnecessarily complicating an already intractable issue. I shall argue here, however, that the human relation to nature lies at the heart of the transition to socialism. An ecological perspective is pivotal to our understanding of capitalism’s limits, the failures of the early socialist experiments, and the overall struggle for egalitarian and sustainable human development. My argument has three parts. First, it is crucial to understand the intimate connection between classical Marxism and ecological analysis. Far from being an anomaly for socialism, as we are often led to believe, ecology was an essential component of the socialist project from its inception— notwithstanding the numerous later shortcomings of Soviet-type societies in this respect. Second, the global ecological crisis that now confronts us is deeply rooted in the “world-alienating” logic of capital accumulation, traceable to the historical origins of capitalism as a system. Third, the transition from capitalism to socialism is a struggle for sustainable human development in which societies on the periphery of the capitalist world system have been leading the way. Classical Marxism and ecology Research carried out over the last two decades has demonstrated that there was a powerful ecological perspective in classical Marxism. Just as a transformation of the human relation to the earth was, in Marx’s view, an essential presupposition for the transition from feudalism to capitalism, so the rational regulation of the metabolic relation to nature was understood as an essential presupposition for the transition from capitalism to socialism.[1] Marx and Engels wrote extensively about ecological problems arising from capitalism and class society in general, and the need to transcend these under socialism. This included discussions of the nineteenth-century soil crisis, which led Marx to develop his theory of metabolic rift between nature and society. Basing his analysis on the work of the German chemist Justus von Liebig, he pointed to the fact that soil nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) were removed from the soil and shipped hundreds and thousands of miles to the cities where they ended up polluting the water and the air and contributing to the poor health of the workers. This break in the necessary metabolic cycle between
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This note was uploaded on 02/04/2011 for the course BUAD 1 taught by Professor Na during the Spring '09 term at USC.

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Foster%20-%20Ecology%20and%20transition%20copy - Ecology...

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