The Absolute General Law of Environmental Degradation Under Capitalism

The Absolute General Law of Environmental Degradation Under Capitalism,” [PDFCapitalism, Nature, Socialism, vol. 3, no. 3 (September 1992), pp. 77-82. DOI:10.1080/10455759209358504

James O’Connor has asked us to consider the relationship between what he has termed the “first and second contradictions” of capitalism. I would like to refer to the first contradiction, following Marx, as ‘the absolute cereal law of capitalist accumulation.” The second contradiction may then be designated as “the absolute general law of environmental degradation under capitalism.” It is characteristic of capitalism that the second of these “absolute general laws” derives its momentum from the first; hence it is impossible to overthrow the second without overthrowing the first. Nevertheless, it is the second contradiction rather than the first that increasingly constitutes the most obvious threat not only to capitalism existence but to the life of the planet as a whole.

  • Translated and published in Spanish as “La Ley General Absoluta de la Degradacion Ambiental en el Capitalismo,” Ecología Politica (September 1992), pp. 167-73.
  • Spanish translation later reprinted in Economía Politica, no. 11, Jan.-Feb. 1997.
  • Translated and published in Italian as “La Legge Assoluta, Generale del Degrado Ambientale nel Capitalismo,” Capitalismo, Natura, Socialismo, no. 6 (November 1992).

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