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Marx’s Theory of Metabolism in the Age of Global Ecological Crisis

In: Historical Materialism
Author:
Kohei Saito Graduate School of Economics, Osaka City University Osaka Japan

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Abstract

When the existing order cannot offer a solution, the solution to climate crisis must come from the radical left, and this is precisely why Karl Marx’s idea of ecosocialism is more important than ever. In this context, it is worth revisiting not only the legacy of István Mészáros’s theory of ‘social metabolism’ and that of his successors – who can be categorised as comprising the ‘metabolic rift school’, which includes John Bellamy Foster, Paul Burkett, and Brett Clark –, but also Karl Marx’s own theory of metabolism. In order to highlight the contemporary importance of Marx’s theory of metabolism after its long suppression in the twentieth century, this paper aims at classifying the three different levels of Marx’s concept of ‘metabolic rift’, which also entails clarifying three different levels of ‘metabolic shift’ as the theoretical foundation for updating Marx’s theory of postcapitalism in the age of global ecological crisis.

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