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Author Archive | John Bellamy Foster

The Plight of the U.S. Working Class

Modern capitalism, sociologist Max Weber famously observed early in the twentieth century, is based on “the rational capitalistic organization of (formally) free labor.” But the “rationality” of the system in this sphere, as Weber was to acknowledge elsewhere, was so restrictive as to be in reality “irrational.” Despite its formal freedom, labor under capitalism was substantively unfree.… This was in […]

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Polish Marxian Political Economy and U.S. Monopoly Capital Theory

From the viewpoint of orthodox economists, macroeconomics has no significant historical antecedents prior to the publication of Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money in 1936. Theories of aggregate demand before Keynes, such as those associated with Lauderdale, Malthus, and Hobson, were generally weak theoretically. A number of important mainstream economic thinkers raised what […]

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Metabolism, Energy and Entropy in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy

Until recently, most commentators, including ecological Marxists, have assumed that Marx’s historical materialism was only marginally ecologically sensitive at best, or even that it was explicitly anti-ecological. However, research over the last decade has demonstrated not only that Marx deemed ecological materialism essential to the critique of political economy and to investigations into socialism, but […]

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Marx and the Rift in the Universal Metabolism of Nature

The rediscovery over the last decade and a half of Marx’s theory of metabolic rift has come to be seen by many on the left as offering a powerful critique of the relation between nature and contemporary capitalist society. The result has been the development of a more unified ecological world view transcending the divisions […]

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The Epochal Crisis

It is an indication of the sheer enormity of the historical challenge confronting humanity in our time that the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, sometimes now called the Second Great Depression, is overshadowed by the larger threat of planetary catastrophe, raising the question of the long-term survival of innumerable species—including our own. An […]

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The Fossil Fuels War

Only a few years ago governments, corporations, and energy analysts were fixated on the problem of “the end of cheap oil” or “peak oil,” pointing to growing shortages of conventional crude oil due to the depletion of known reserves. The International Energy Agency’s 2010 report devoted a whole section to peak oil. Some climate scientists […]

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Introduction to the Second Edition of The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism

The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy was initially written thirty years ago this coming year as my doctoral dissertation at York University in Toronto. It was expanded into a larger book form with three additional chapters (on the state, imperialism, and socialist construction) and published by Monthly Review Press two […]

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Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift

This article addresses a paradox: on the one hand, environmental sociology, as currently developed, is closely associated with the thesis that the classical sociological tradition is devoid of systematic insights into environmental problems; on the other hand, evidence of crucial classical contributions in this area, particularly in Marx, but also in Weber, Durkheim, and others, […]

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