The Ecological Crisis and the Logic of Capital


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The worsening environmental crisis has become a serious threat to mankind. The search for a solution to this crisis must begin by understanding its causes. Taking an eco-socialist perspective, The Ecological Crisis and the Logic of Capital explores the logic of capitalism as a fundamental cause of today’s environmental crisis, in particular the thirst for profit and the capitalist mode of production. By demonstrating the inherent antagonism between capital and ecology, this book argues that proposals to resolve the crisis within the capitalist system are utopian, that proposed remedies relying on scientific progress, alternative energies, low-carbon technologies or the introduction of ecological ethics and new attitudes toward Nature into market mechanisms are doomed to failure without a radical overhaul of the principles that govern capitalism.

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Chen Xueming is Professor of philosophy, doctoral tutor, and Deputy Director at the renowned Fudan University. His representative works include Approaching Marx: the Four Thinkers Track since Drastic Change (Oriental Press, 2002) and Forever Marx (People's Publishing House, 2006).

Introduction: Capital and Ecology
 On the Ecological-Marxian Analysis of the Ecological Crisis

Part 1: John Bellamy Foster’s Research on the Ecological Crisis

1 The Theoretical Basis of Ecological Civilization
 Constructing a Marxist Theory of Ecology
 Ecological Theory in Marx’s Work
 The Essence of Marx’s Philosophical Materialism
 Insights from Marx’s Ecological Theory

2 The Ecological Implications of Marx’s Materialist View of Nature
 Marx’s Materialist Conception of Nature in his Doctoral Thesis
 Marx’s Materialist Conception of Nature in his Relationship with Feuerbach
 Marx’s Materialism as a Foundation for his Views on Ecology

3 The Ecological Implications of Marx’s Materialist Conception of History
 Ecological Theory in Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, 1844
 Ecological Theory of the Communist Manifesto

4 The Ecological Implications of Marx’s Theory of “Metabolism”
 The Theory of “Metabolism” in Capital
 The “Metabolic Rift” in Capital
 On the Cause of the “Metabolic Rift”

5 The Revelation of Marx’s Ecological Theory: Antagonism between Capital and Ecology
 Marx’s View of the Opposition between Capital and Ecology
 The Conflict between Capital and Ecology in Today’s World

6 The Bush Administration and the Kyoto Protocol
 The Bush Administration’s Attitude Towards the Kyoto Protocol
 The U.S. Government’s Attitude Toward the Other “Earth Summits”
 Obliging the Third World to “Swallow Pollution”

7 Giving up Illusions in Order to Overcome the Ecological Crisis
 Can Environmental Problems be Solved through the “Dematerialization” of the Capitalist Economy?
 Can Environmental Problems be Solved through the Development of Science and Technology?
 Can Environmental Problems be Solved through a Capitalistic Market Approach to Nature?
 Can Environmental Problems be Solved through Moral Reform and Establishing Ecological Ethics?

8 The Fight against the Ecological Crisis
 Beyond the Bottom Line of a Money-Driven Economy
 Putting People First
 Constructing Humanity’s Relationship to Nature Based on “Freedom in General”
 Having Enough, not Having More
 Putting Land Ethics into Practice
 Environmental Revolution Necessitates Social Revolution

Part 2: Research from Other Ecological Marxists

9 James O’Connor: The Intrinsic Relationship between Marxism and Ecology
 Marx’s View on “History and Nature”
 Marx’s view on “Capital and Nature”
 Marx’s View on “Socialism and Nature”

10 David Pepper: Why Marx’s Ecological Theory Is Needed
 Now More Than Ever
 Marxism Contains Enough Elements for an Ecological Theory
 Solution to Environmental Problems in Marxism
 Ecological Contradictions: Inherent Contradictions of Capitalist Societies in Marxism
 Capitalism: “Inherently Environmentally Unfriendly” in Marxism
 The Cause of Overpopulation, Famine and “Natural Shortages” in Marxism
 Overcoming Alienation from Nature and “Asserting its Humanness” in Marxism
 Rationally Regulating Humanity’s Relationship to Nature in Marxism

11 Paul Burkett: The Inherent Relationship between Natural, Social and Environmental Crises in Marxism
 The Four Necessary Conditions of Social Ecology
 Nature and Historical Materialism
 The Analysis of Ecological Value and the Theory of Capitalism
 Perspectives on the Ecological Implications of Communism

12 Andre Gorz: Surpassing Economic Logic as the Key to Constructing an Ecological Civilization
 The Capitalistic Division of Labor as the Root of all Alienation
 Capitalism’s Profit Motive as the Cause of Ecological Destruction
 Beyond Economic Logic, the Implementation of Ecological Logic
 Advanced Socialism as the Key to Protecting the Environment

13 Ben Agger: The Ecological Dilemma has Shattered People’s Faith in Capitalism
 Re-examining the Theory of the Crisis of Capitalism
 Toward an Ecological Marxism
 Transforming Capitalism through Decentralization and Debureaucratization
 Combining American Populism with Ecological Marxism

14 William Leiss: A Marxist Approach to Green Theory
 The Logical Connection between Controlling Nature and Controlling People
 Human Satisfaction Ultimately Lies in Production, Not in Consumption

15 Herbert Marcuse: The Marxist Path to Ecological Revolution
 Marx’s Theory of the Liberation of Nature in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, 1844
 An Analysis of Ecology in Today’s World
 Marcuse’s Theory of the Liberation of Nature and the “Club of Rome”

Part 3: The Implications of Ecological Marxism

16 Marxism and the Construction of an Ecological Civilization
 The Ecological Vision in Marx’s Works
 The Practical Significance of Marx’s Ecological Worldview

17 The Inspiration of Ecological Marxism for Constructing an Ecologically Friendly Civilization
 From Humanity’s Conflict with Nature to Conflicts between Human Beings
 The Advantages of Constructing an Ecological Civilization in a Socialist Society
 Constructing Ecological Civilization and Creating Humanity’s New Way of Being
 Making the Construction of Ecological Civilization into a Great Revolution of Thought

18 Ecological Marxism’s Opposition to Postmodernism
 “Green Politics” as a Form of Post-modern Politics
 Should Modernization be Abandoned or Reformed?
 Eco-centrism or Anthropocentrism?
 Can Rationality Correct the Biases of Rationalism?
 The Proper Way to Regard the Functions of Science and Technology
 Humankind’s Search for Meaning
 The Theoretical and Practical Relevance of Ecological Marxism Compared to Postmodernism

19 Western Marxism’s Rejection of Postmodernism
 The Confrontation between Ecological Marxism and Postmodernism
 The Inheritance of Habermas’ Reflections on Modernity
 The Inheritance of the Frankfurt School’s Critique of Society
 The Inheritance of the Pioneers of Western Marxism
 A Reflection on the Positive Significance of Marxism Itself

20 Personal Fulfillment through Production Rather than Consumption
 An Essential Thesis of Ecological Marxism
 Focusing on Production Rather than Consumption
 New Concepts for an Overhaul of Current Consumption Patterns
 Seeking Satisfaction in Productive Activity
 The Implications of the Thesis of Fulfillment through Productive Activity

21 Ecological Marxism’s New Reflection on Contemporary Capitalism
 The Cause of the Ecological Crisis—the Capitalist Mode of Production
 From the Critique of the Profit Motive to the Critique of the Economic Reason of Capitalism
 The Relationship between Environmental Protection and the Existing Capitalist Modes of Production
 Capitalist Countries are Largely Ecologically Imperialist Countries
 “Sustainable Development” is Impossible under Capitalism

22 An Ecologically Friendly Civilization is an Essential Goal of Chinese Socialism
 Creating Environmental Standards for Chinese Socialism
 Scientific Development Means “Green” Development
 A Harmonious Society Founded on Harmony between Humanity and Nature
 Promoting Human Fulfillment through the Unity of Humanity and Nature

23 The Strategic Choice for the Construction of Ecological Civilization under Chinese Socialism
 The Three Strategies That we Can Not and Should Not Choose
 The Viable Strategy of Ecologically Oriented Modernization

24 Challenges for the Construction of an Ecologically Friendly Civilization
 Capital: Utilizing and Restricting
 Technology: Development and Control
 Production: Expansion and Reform
 Consumption: Stimulus and Guidance
All interested in tracing the root cause of the ecological crisis and the solution to the global environmental problems. Anyone concerned with researched study on contemporary Western Ecological Marxism.
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