Marx’s Grundrisse and the Ecological Contradictions of Capitalism

Marx’s Grundrisse and The Ecological Contradictions of Capitalism,” in Marcello Musto, ed. Karl Marx’s Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy One Hundred and Fifty Years Later (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 93-106.

In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte Marx famously wrote: ‘Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circum- stances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past’ (Marx 1979: 103). The material circumstances or conditions that he was referring to here were the product of both natural and social history. For Marx production was a realm of expanding needs and powers. But it was subject at all times to material limits imposed by nature. It was the tragedy of capital that its narrow logic propelled it in an unrelenting assault on both these natural limits and the new social needs that it brought into being. By constantly revolutionizing production capital transformed society, but only by continually alienating natural necessity (conditions of sustainability and reproduction) and human needs.

  • Japanese translation by Horshi Uchida, 2012.

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