Forwarded from Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Apr 5 06:47:24 MST 2002

this is in response to Louis Proyect's rather gratuitous comment in
January, which I have just had the pleasure to read, regarding our
critique of Foster's book (published in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism
with Maarten de Kadt). Louis places words in our mouths when claiming
that we suggest Marx could not predict the nuclear threat or PCBs and
by placing these kinds of words makes us look rather like imbeciles
who have never read Marx. i sincerely hope that was not the intent.
the problem as we tried to show is not regarding Marx's applicability
to ecological principles but his limits of scope. here is a direct
quote from what we wrote:

"Thinking about nature was then [during Marx's time] at an early
stage and, because of advances in natural and social science, is
qualitatively different now than it was then. Such thinking could not
have been able to consider the scale, accumulation, and breadth of
humans' interaction with the rest of nature that characterizes
present ecological conditions."

this says nothing about whether or not Marx's work is applicable to
the present or not. i believe it certainly is, but must be modified
beyond thinking in terms of metabolic balances, for instance, when it
comes to soil conditions. soils are complex systems in
non-equilibrium and such concepts of "balance of nature" are not very
useful anymore analytically; again, this does not mean Marx's
dialectical approach per se is inapplicable, but it must be updated
rather than just superimposed on ecological analysis, as Foster
unfortunately does. though i agree with comrade Louis'
counter-critiques to some extent, i would not wish the readership to
get the impression that we found Foster's work of no value. this
could not be further from the truth and I at least praise his
efforts, though we are critical of his interpretive take on Marx and
ecological principles.

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at on 04/05/2002

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