Marx is generally reckoned to have had too little to say about what has come to be defined as ‘social reproduction’, largely as a consequence of too narrow a focus on industrial production, and a relative disregard for issues of gender. This paper argues in contrast that the approach he developed with Engels and in Capital, Volume 1, provides a powerful framework for its analysis. After an introductory discussion of recent literature on social reproduction the second section sets out Marx’s approach to the ‘production of life, both of one’s own in labour and of fresh life in procreation’. The third addresses his account of reproduction in Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 23. The fourth and fifth compare the relationship of the family to industry and exchange as depicted in Capital and in the present day respectively. The conclusion suggests some implications for theories of social reproduction.
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.
Marxism has often been associated with two different legacies. The first rests on a strong exposition and critique of the logic of capitalism, grounded in a systematic analysis of the laws of motion of capitalism as a system. The second legacy refers to a strong historicist perspective grounded in a conception of social relations that emphasises the centrality of power and social conflict to the analysis of history. This article challenges the prominence of structural accounts of capitalism by showing how the tension between these legacies has played out within Political Marxism, both orientations already having co-existed, somewhat uneasily, within Robert Brenner’s original contributions to the Transition Debate. Through this internal critique and re-formulation of Political Marxism, we wish to open a broader debate within Marxism on the need for a more agency-based account of capitalism, which builds more explicitly on the concept of social relations, to recover the historicist legacy of Marxism.
Why did Marx declare the revolution permanent? A careful examination of the celebrated passages from March 1850 in their immediate rhetorical context shows that he intended to affirm the tactical principles laid down earlier in the Communist Manifesto – as opposed to standard ‘anti-stagist’ interpretations that present the Permanenz locution of 1850 as a break with these principles. Among such principles: keeping eyes firmly fixed on the prize – the permanent final goal of a complete overhaul of society – is essential to maintaining a proper perspective on history’s way-stations, that is, the necessary but subordinate revolutionary tasks and allies; and public declaration of the permanent goal is essential for preserving the independence of the workers’ movement and thus for carrying out the proletariat’s world-historical mission of creating a classless society.