Lucien Sève devoted his life to the development of a Marxist theory of the personality. In so doing, and as part of a theoretical debate with both Marxist humanists and structural Marxists within the Parti Communiste Français, he was inevitably drawn to analyse alienation as a category of Marxist analysis. His conclusion was that although Althusser had been right to argue for the ‘epistemological break’ in Marx’s thought, it was wrong to suggest that Marx abandoned the concept of alienation in his later work. Far from it: a transformed conception of alienation derived from historical materialism remains the key to understanding Marxism.
This is an adapted version of a lecture delivered to the John Cobb Ecological Academy in Claremont, California, on June 24, 2022, on the topic of ecological civilization. It was intended to follow up on the Fifteenth International Conference on Ecological Civilization,” held in Claremont on May 26–27, 2022. The talk, which was delivered to a largely Chinese audience, was followed by an extensive interview conducted by Chinese ecological Marxist scholars, entitled “Why Is the Great Project of Ecological Civilization Specific to China?,” which is being published simultaneously as a Monthly Review Essay at MR Online. Both the lecture and the interview are being co-published by the Poyang Lake Journal in China.
I would like to speak to you today about the connections between ecological civilization, ecological Marxism, and ecological revolution, and the ways in which these three concepts, when taken together dialectically, can be seen as pointing to a new revolutionary praxis for the twenty-first century. More concretely, I would like to ask: How are we to understand the origins and historic significance of the concept of ecological civilization? What is its relation to ecological Marxism? And how is all of this connected to the worldwide revolutionary struggle aimed at transcending our current planetary emergency and protecting what Karl Marx called “the chain of human generations,” together with life in general?1
Roberto Andrés: I have long wanted to interview you about a book that was decisive in my intellectual formation: Marx’s Ecology. This book was published in 2000 in English and immediately translated into Spanish and inaugurated what has become known as second generation ecosocialism, which recognizes the ecological conception of Karl Marx, unlike the previous generation. However, in the more than twenty years since, Marx’s Ecology not only opened a wide debate but was also the object of multiple criticisms (it could not be otherwise). Later, you and Paul Burkett, author of Marx and Nature, published an anti-critique: Marx and the Earth, where you rigorously answered each of those criticisms. And then Kohei Saito further extended this line of inquiry with Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism. All of this has led me to wonder about the answers you gave in 2000 to ten controversial questions that have puzzled analysts of Marx’s vast theoretical corpus for a long time. Given the debates over the last two decades, would you answer these ten questions the same way you did in 2000 with Marx’s Ecology? I tend to believe that, in general terms, much progress has been made during this time in this line of research. That is why I would like to do a very specific interview with you dealing with these ten controversial questions, some twenty years after Marx’s Ecology.
John Bellamy Foster: I am of course pleased to provide answers to your questions with respect to Marx and my book Marx’s Ecology two decades after its publication. My views have remained generally the same, though they naturally have been refined over the years. Nevertheless, I am glad to offer some clarifications.
In the preface to the first edition of volume one of Capital, dated July 25, 1867, Marx introduces the book’s “ultimate aim”: “to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society” . Looking back 155 years later, it’s clear the book not only accomplished that aim but continues to do so today.
In a few short pages, Marx introduces the method he used to study and present his research into the dynamics of capitalism, explains the reasons why he focused on England, distinguishes between modes of production and social formations (and by doing so refutes any accusations of his theory of history as progressing linearly through successive stages), identifies the capacities he’s assuming of the reader, affirms he’s interested in critiquing the structures of capital and not the individuals within it, and explains that the main function of the book is to help our class intervene in the constantly changing capitalist system.
EDITED BY LORENZO FUSARO AND LEINAD JOHAN ALCALÁ SANDOVAL – CONTRIBUTIONS BY ROSSANA CILLO; LUIS FELIPE DOCOA; ROBERTO FINESCHI; ABELARDO MARIÑA FLORES; LORENZO FUSARO; CARLOS ALBERTO DUQUE GARCÍA; SERGIO CÁMARA IZQUIERDO; MATARI PIERRE MANIGAT; LUCIA PRADELLA; WILLIAM I. ROBINSON; SIBYL ITALIA PINEDA SALAZAR AND LEINAD JOHAN ALCALÁ SANDOVAL
This edited collection engages with Marx’s General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, examining the relevance and actuality of Marx’s propositions for the analysis of contemporary capitalism in Latin America and beyond. The contributors offer an original and updated interpretation of Marx while also examining important topics in political economy. The contributors bring critical insights into scholarly debates on imperialism, exploitation, labor, and development.
This volume within the series Selected Writings of Stuart Hall, which Duke University Press has published over the last years, is a much needed and welcoming addition to the already existing volumes that include editions on the popular arts, media, politics, race and difference, identity and diaspora, the foundations of cultural studies, as well as on Hall’s auto-biography Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands, in which Hall describes his life and ‘diasporic self’ as ‘inserted into history’ somewhere between the Caribbean and Great Britain. The published volumes present Hall as one of the most important and brilliant left intellectuals of the last 50 years, especially as his work comprises a broad range and mixture of general cultural and societal issues, compelling interventions into politics and extremely careful abstract theoretical reflections. In addition, the series reveals the intellectual unity and development of a fascinating writer and mind who, throughout his lifetime, stayed uncannily close to the intellectual heartbeats of his time, society and historical conjunctures. Undoubtedly, this was at least in part due both to his influential editorial work for The New Left Review and to his involvement in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham. Hall’s position between structuralist Marxism and cultural studies, which is the focus of this volume, makes him interesting (again) for our contemporary debates, since we can learn from Hall how to avoid the pitfalls of either doing too much Marxist theorizing or doing too much cultural interpretation. In the spirit of Kant’s dictum that concepts without intuitions remain empty and intuitions without concepts remain blind, we might say that a critical theory of society without cultural studies remains empty, and cultural studies without a Marxist theory of society remains blind.
This panel discusses and explores the new English translation of Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis (Brill 2021). Originally published in Japan and in Japanese in 1953, Uno’s Theory of Crisis presents a radical reinterpretation Marx’s Capital to clarify the inevitability and periodicity of capitalist crisis. Emphasizing how the commodification of labour-power is the fundamental cause of capitalist crisis, Uno’s Theory of Crisis differs from other Marxist theories of crisis that emphasize the cause of crisis in over-production/under-consumption, or else in the tendency of the profit rate to fall. The panel features scholars of Uno’s method for political economy and discusses how his Theory of Crisis can help us to write the history of class struggle in today’s conjuncture of multiple capitalist crisis.
Ken Kawashima, Wendy Matsumura, Gavin Walker, Dr. Richard Westra