Marxism and the Dialectics of
Ecology
 

Does Critical Criticism believe that it has reached

even the beginning of a knowledge of historical

reality so long as it excludes from the historical

movement the theoretical and practical relation of

man to nature, i.e. natural science and industry?

—Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

John Bellamy Foster

T
he recovery of the ecological-materialist foundations of Karl Marx’s thought, as embodied in his theory of metabolic rift, is redefining both Marxism and ecology in our time, reintegrating the critique of capital with critical natural science. This may seem astonishing to those who were reared on the view that Marx’s ideas were simply a synthesis of German idealism, French utopian socialism, and British political economy. However, such perspectives on classical historical materialism, which prevailed during the previous century, are now giving way to a broader recognition that Marx’s materialist conception of history is inextricably connected to the materialist conception of nature, encompassing not only the critique of political economy, but also the critical appropriation of the natural-

 

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ECONOMIC ASSESSMENTS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT