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Marxs Ecology

Marxs Ecology: Materialism and Nature

JOHN BELLAMY FOSTER
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 200
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qgbtv
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  • Book Info
    Marxs Ecology
    Book Description:

    Progress requires the conquest of nature. Or does it? This startling new account overturns conventional interpretations of Marx and in the process outlines a more rational approach to the current environmental crisis. Marx, it is often assumed, cared only about industrial growth and the development of economic forces. John Bellamy Foster examines Marx's neglected writings on capitalist agriculture and soil ecology, philosophical naturalism, and evolutionary theory. He shows that Marx, known as a powerful critic of capitalist society, was also deeply concerned with the changing human relationship to nature. Marx's Ecology covers many other thinkers, including Epicurus, Charles Darwin, Thomas Malthus, Ludwig Feuerbach, P. J. Proudhon, and William Paley. By reconstructing a materialist conception of nature and society, Marx's Ecology challenges the spiritualism prevalent in the modern Green movement, pointing toward a method that offers more lasting and sustainable solutions to the ecological crisis.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-381-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vi-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-20)

    The argument of this book is based on a very simple premise: that in order to understand the origins of ecology, it is necessary to comprehend the new views of nature that arose with the development of materialism and science from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. Moreover, rather than simply picturing materialism and science as the enemies of earlier and supposedly preferable conceptions of nature, as is common in contemporary Green theory, the emphasis here is on how the development of both materialism and science promoted—indeed made possible—ecological ways of thinking.

    The overall discussion is structured around the...

  5. CHAPTER 1 THE MATERIALIST CONCEPTION OF NATURE
    (pp. 21-65)

    In 1837 a young Charles Darwin, recently back from his five-year voyage of discovery in the HMS Beagle, opened the first of a series of notebooks on the “transmutation of species,” beginning a systematic study into that elusive subject. It was when he was reading Thomas Malthus’s Essay on Population a little more than a year later in the fall of 1838 that Darwin had his great revelation that species transmutation occurred by means of natural selection brought on by the struggle for existence. Inspired by Malthus’s description of the exponential growth of populations when unchecked, and hence the need...

  6. CHAPTER 2 THE REALLY EARTHLY QUESTION
    (pp. 66-80)

    Marx’s doctoral thesis was accepted in April 1841 but his hopes of pursuing an academic career were soon disappointed when the Prussian authorities began to crack down on the radical Young Hegelians. In March 1842 Marx’s close associate Bruno Bauer was deprived of his teaching post for spreading unorthodox doctrines. Forced to give up on an academic career, Marx turned to journalism and in October 1842 assumed the position of editor of a major Rhineland paper, the Rheinische Zeitung, which represented the rising middle class of Cologne, but which was then dominated editorially by the Young Hegelians. His article “Debates...

  7. CHAPTER 3 PARSON NATURALISTS
    (pp. 81-104)

    Near the end of his life, in hisAutobiography, Charles Darwin made a startling acknowledgement—namely that the work of William Paley, the arch-natural theologian of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, had been one of the most important intellectual influences governing his early thinking. At Cambridge Darwin had been required for his BA examinations to read Paley’sEvidences of Christianity(along with hisPrinciples of Moral and Political Philosophy), which he learned practically by heart. The logical structure of theEvidencesand Paley’s laterNatural Theology, he recalled, “gave me as much delight as did Euclid…. I did not at...

  8. CHAPTER 4 THE MATERIALIST CONCEPTION OF HISTORY
    (pp. 105-140)

    “With the exception of the Venetian monk Ortes, an original and clever writer, most of the population theorists,” Marx wrote in Capital, “are Protestant clerics … Parson Wallace, Parson Townsend, Parson Malthus and his pupil, the arch-Parson Thomas Chalmers, to say nothing of the lesser reverend scribblers in this line…. With the entry of ‘the principle of population’ [into political economy] the hour of the Protestant parsons struck.”¹ Like William Cobbett, who had leveled the accusation of “Parson” against Malthus in 1819, Marx was an adamant critic of the intrusion of natural theology, the idea of providence and narrow, parsonic...

  9. CHAPTER 5 THE METABOLISM OF NATURE AND SOCIETY
    (pp. 141-177)

    Before the ink was even dry onThe Communist Manifestoa wave of revolutions broke out in Paris in 1848, quickly spreading across continental Europe. Although theManifestoitself played no immediate part in this new phase of bourgeois revolution, its timing could scarcely have been better, and events seemed to underscore the importance of its revolutionary analysis. Both Marx and Engels participated in the uprisings then taking place in France and Germany, Marx starting up a revolutionary paper in Cologne, theNeue Rlteinische Zeitung, but the revolutions were quickly defeated and Marx, no longer welcome in Prussia, France or...

  10. CHAPTER 6 THE BASIS IN NATURAL HISTORY FOR OUR VIEW
    (pp. 178-225)

    Darwin wrote the first short draft of his theory of the transmutation of species in soft pencil in 1842. Two years later he wrote a much longer draft, of about fifty thousand words, and gave strict instructions to his wife Emma that it should be published upon his death. It was not until 1858—two decades after he first articulated his theory in hisNotebooks—that he made it public in a joint presentation of papers with his young rival Alfred Russell Wallace (publishingThe Origin of Speciesitself in the following year). And he only did so then when...

  11. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 226-256)

    In February 1937 Nikolai Bukharin (1888–1938), one of the leading figures of the Russian Revolution, whom Lenin had called “the golden boy of the revolution,” the “favorite of the entire party,” and its “biggest theorist,” was arrested on Stalin’s orders and placed in Lubyanka Prison. Except when taken to the interrogation room, he was confined to a tiny cell lit by a single bare bulb, alone for months, but for a time sharing his cell with an informer. For more than a year he awaited trial and possible execution, fearful for the survival of his family. In March 1938...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 257-300)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 301-310)