Ecological Economics and Classical Marxism

Ecological Economics and Classical Marxism : The ”Podolinsky Business” Reconsidered,” [PDF], (coauthored with Paul Burkett, Foster listed first), Organization and Environment, vol. 17, no. 1 (March 2004), pp. 32-60. DOI: 10.1177/1086026603262091

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 adopted by Marx and Engels. Moreover, Marx and Engels did not neglect nor abruptly reject Podolinsky’ s work as is commonly supposed but took it seriously enough to scrutinize it deeply in the spirit of critique. Although verifying Podolinsky’s right- ful place as a forerunner of ecological energetics, the authors’ analysis highlights the severe limitations imposed by his energy reductionism and closed-system thinking as compared to Marx and Engels’s metabolic and open-system approach.


Forthcoming reprint in Robert Ayres and Steve Keen, ed., Energy and Economic Theory (Northamption, MA: Edward Elgar, 2015.

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