The Rift in the Metabolism of Nature and Society


Christian Stache interviews John Bellamy Foster on the “irreparable rift in the interdependent process of metabolism between nature and society”

MR online | 24 February, 2017

Greenscape of Che Guevara

You and your colleague Paul Burkett just released your new book Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique (Brill 2016, Haymarket 2017). The subtitle classifies your new book as an “Anti-Critique.” To whom do you reply and, most importantly, why do you answer them?

JBF: A little history is in order here. Since the 1980s there has emerged, first in the United States/Canada and Europe, and now all around the world, what is known as the ecosocialist or ecological Marxist movement.

What Paul Burkett and I call first-stage ecosocialism grafted Green ideas on Marxism, or sometimes Marxist ideas on Green theory, creating a hybrid, or Centaur-like analysis. Pioneering thinkers such as Ted Benton, Andre Gorz, and James O’Connor faulted Marx and Engels for the ecological blinders, or even anti-ecological bases, of their thought. It was sometimes said that Marx had gone overboard in his rejection of Malthusian natural limits. In general, first-stage ecosocialism developed under the hegemony of Green theory. Although Marxism contributed the class or labor perspective the main ecological critique was seen as coming almost entirely from outside rather than from within historical materialism itself. Some, though not all, first-stage ecosocialists were very adamant in arguing that ecosocialism had displaced classical Marxism, freeing them from what they saw as many negative aspects of socialist traditions. Ecosocialism in such cases thus became a kind of negation of classical socialism.Read More »