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Tag Archives | Paul Burkett

Marx and the Earth

A decade and a half ago John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett introduced a new, revolutionary understanding of the ecological foundations of Marx’s thought, demonstrating that Marx’s concepts of the universal metabolism of nature, social metabolism, and metabolic rift prefigured much of modern systems ecology. Ecological relations were shown to be central to Marx’s critique […]

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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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Classical Marxism and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Ever since Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1971) wrote his magnum opus, The Entropy Law and the Economic Process, the entropy law (or the second law of thermodynamics) has been viewed as a sine qua non of ecological economics. Georgescu-Roegen argued strongly that both the entropy law and the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of matter–energy) were incompatible […]

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The Podolinsky Myth

The relationship between Marxism and ecology has been sullied by Martinez-Alier’s influential interpretation of Engels’s reaction to the agricultural energetics of Sergei Podolinsky. is introduction to the first English translation of Podolinsky’s 1883 Die Neue Zeit piece evaluates Martinez-Alier’s interpretation in light of the four distinct but closely related articles Podolinsky published over the years […]

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Metabolism, Energy, and Entropy in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy: Beyond the Podolinsky Myth

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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Ecological Economics and Classical Marxism

This introduction to “Socialism and the Unity of Physical Forces” reassesses Sergei Podolinsky’s place in the history of ecological economics together with Marx and Engels’s reaction to Podolinsky’s work. The authors show that contrary to conventional wisdom, Podolinsky did not establish a plausible thermodynamic basis for the labor theory of value that could have been […]

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Marx and the Dialectic of Orgainc/Inorganic Relations

Our article “The Dialectic of Organic/Inorganic Relations: Marx and the Hegelian Philosophy of Nature” (Foster & Burkett, 2000) appeared in Oraganization & Environment exactly a 1 year ago. Our purpose in that article was a very specific one made very clear from the beginning. We were concerned with addressing one of the most persistent and […]

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The Dialectic of Organic/Inorganic Relations

Ecological thinkers have suggested that in applying an “organic/inorganic” distinction to humanity-nature, Marx embraced a dualistic and antagonistic conception of the human-nature relationship. The authors confront this view by considering how Marx’s various applications of the concepts organic and inorganic were shaped not only by standard scientific usage but also by Marx’s engagement with Hegel’s […]

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Marx’s Ecological Value Analysis

Paul Burkett, Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), 312 pp., $45, hardcover. If there is a single charge that has served to unify all criticism of Marx in recent decades, it is the charge of “Prometheanism.” Although Marx’s admiration for Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound and his attraction to […]

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