[Marxism] Re: marxian theory of nature

Ben C minnows at connexus.net.au
Sun Feb 1 01:01:59 MST 2004

Mathew Piscioneri wrote:
 >I know it's a bit heretical but I want to look again at a marxian 
theory of nature taking Engels' work as a starting point perhaps.

Revolutionary environmentalism*//*
*/Marx's Ecology/*
*By John Bellamy Foster
Monthly Review Press, 2000
310 pages, $32.40*

*Although Marxists have taken part in the environmental
movement, especially since its rapid rise in the 1970s, there has
always been suspicion among some in the movement that the left is
“intervening” for its own interests (such as recruitment to left
groups) and really doesn't care about the environment.*

Such prejudices have not been helped by the ecological
devastation perpetrated by the Stalinist former regimes of the Soviet
Union and Eastern Europe in the name of “communism”. Many academics
spread the view (also held by many Marxists) that Marxism advocates the
technological “domination” of nature.

Some critics say Marxism is simply out of date on environmental
questions. Others even suggest that it is fundamentally
anti-environment. Both views are on a shaky footing if a serious
examination of the ideas of Karl Marx is made. John Bellamy Foster does
this in his book, /Marx's Ecology/.

( . . . )

Foster sets out to demonstrate that ecological thought is central to 
Marxism. This he achieves admirably. Having demonstrated this, the 
question is, what to do next? A history of ideas does not a Marxist 
ecological movement make. As US socialist Louis Proyect has written on 
the Marxism List (see <http://www.marxmail.org)> 
<http://www.marxmail.org%29>): “Foster is correct to state that the 
analysis of the ecological crisis must be rooted in Marxist materialism, 
but — after having stated this — it is still a task that remains 

Anyone — scientist or activist — who wishes to rise to this (long 
overdue) challenge could do worse than start with a reading of Foster's 
book. Just because Marx did not have to deal with radioactive waste or 
the greenhouse effect doesn't mean his ideas and approach have no 
relevance to modern environmentalists.
 From /Green Left Weekly,/ August 6, 2003.

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