[Marxism] [New post] Debates within ecosocialism: John Bellamy Foster, Jason Moore and CNS

Joseph Green jgreen at communistvoice.org
Wed Jun 15 22:06:59 MDT 2016

Louis Proyect wrote:

> It has been well over 15 years since I paid much attention to John Bellamy
> FosterTMs writings on Marx and the metabolic rift or his 1999 quarrel
> with James OTMConnor,  ....
> Once again I plunge into controversies that will have very little impact
> outside of the world of journals and academic conferences.

Indeed, but the basic framework put forth by Foster and others does have its 
effect, so it's worth dealing with.  I reviewed one of Foster's earlier 
books, "Marxism and Ecology: Materialism and Nature" (2000) in 2007: see 

Naturally I agree with Foster  that Marxism is of importance to ecology, but 
I dealt with some of the flaws in  Foster's approach. (Not that Jason Moore 
is any better.) Foster coined the fancy philosophical phrase "metabolic 
rift", but his book obscured crucial issues brought to the fore by the 
environmental crisis . It's not an accident that, as mentioned by others on 
the "Marxism" list in December last year,  Foster prettified the sordid 
record of the present Chinese government. And similtarly, in June of last 
year, in an article "Late Soviet Ecology and the Planetary Crisis", he 
prettified the role that the Soviet Union played in the development of 
ecological thinking "from the late 1950s on".

The  subheads in the review:

* The writings of Marx and Engels
* Alongside and after Marx and Engels
* Lenin and the early Soviet Union
* Stalinist and state capitalist ecocide
* Marxism and global warming
* --Not market methods, but direct regulation of production
* --Class basis of environmental destruction
* --The nature of state regulation
* --Bringing the masses into the environmental struggle
* Foster's Marxism without teeth 

>From the last paragraph of the review:

"...Foster's book is harmed by the lack of the very materialism he preaches 
about: it is an idealist, and even elitist, history of materialism, a 
doctrine which can only really thrive when it becomes a force among the 
masses. Nevertheless, his book does show that Marx and Engels were concerned 
with environmental issues. ... [and] he does end up giving a certain panorama 
of the views and polemics of a number of people of historical interest. ... 
But what he doesn't do, despite the title of his book, is give a picture of 
what Marxism really means for ecology. Foster would drown Marxism, a 
revolutionary doctrine with many sharp edges, in a sea of bland, 
philosophical generalities. So to actually see what Marxism says to do about 
the environment today, one has to go elsewhere."

-- Joseph Green

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