The Progressively Accelerated Degradation of the Environment


Alejandro Teitelbaum

The reason explaining the progressively accelerated degradation of the environment is convoluted because it is elicited by various factors. Yet the root of it is in the uncontrolled production of all kinds of objects and products, some necessary and others not, as a result of what in economics is called «extended reproduction».This reproduction is inherent to the capitalist system. It is essential to know how it works in order to understand and explain the ecological disaster. Sweezy wrote: «It is inevitable to conclude that the simple reproduction implies the abstraction of the most essential thing in the capitalist: his interest in expanding his capital. He goes about it by converting a part —often the greatest one— of its surplus value into additional capital. His increase in capital allows him to appropriate even more surplus value, which in turn becomes additional capital and so on. This is the process, known as capital accumulation, that constitutes the force driving capitalist development».

The capitalist system and a healthy environment are incompatible. That is why Foster, Clark and York are right when in the final part of their article The Ecology of Consumption they write: ...A genuine ecology of consumption—the creation of a new system of sustainable needs-generation and satisfaction—is only possible as part of a new ecology of production, which requires for its emergence the tearing asunder of the capitalist system...

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