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Paul Burkett

Abstract

Recent decades have seen a rethinking and renewal of Marxism on various levels, beginning in the 1950s and 1960s when New-Left movements in the developed capitalist countries combined with Maoist, Guevarist, and other Third-World liberation struggles to challenge the ossified theory and practice of Soviet-style communism and traditional social democracy. More recently, the rethinking of Marxism has been driven largely by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its official Marxist ideology, and by the movement toward neoliberal ‘free market’ policies on a global scale, which together have brought forth a tidal wave of frankly pro-capitalist as well as ‘postmodern’ left varieties of ‘end of history'-type thinking. The contemporary challenge to Marxism, however, also has a positive side in the form of popular revolts against the neoliberalisation of the global economy – the Chiapas rebellion in Mexico, the December 1995 public sector upheavals in France, and many others, not to mention the heroic struggle of the Cuban people against the threat of recolonisation by US and global capital. Here the challenge is to incorporate the changing forms of working-class movement, and their new prefigurations of post-capitalist society, into the theory and practice of Marxian communism.

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Paul Burkett

Abstract

In an earlier article, I responded to Ted Benton's charge that Marx and Engels, upon realising the political conservatism associated with Malthusian natural limits arguments, retreated from materialism to a social-constructionist conception of human production and reproduction. I showed that Benton artificially dichotomises the material and social elements of historical materialism, thereby misreading Marx and Engels's recognition of the historical specificity of material conditions as an outright denial of all natural limits. In place of Marx and Engels's materialist and class-relational approach to population issues and the reserve army of the unemployed, Benton employs a partially Malthusianised Marxism heavily reliant on ahistorical notions of natural limits.

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Marxism and Ecological Economics

Toward a Red and Green Political Economy

Paul Burkett

This book undertakes the first general assessment of ecological economics from a Marxist point of view, and shows how Marxist political economy can make a substantial contribution to ecological economics. The analysis is developed in terms of four basic issues: (1) nature and economic value; (2) the treatment of nature as capital; (3) the significance of the entropy law for economic systems; (4) the concept of sustainable development. In each case, it is shown that Marxism can help ecological economics fulfill its commitments to multi-disciplinarity, methodological pluralism, and historical openness. In this way, a foundation is constructed for a substantive dialogue between Marxists and ecological economists.
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Paul Burkett

Abstract

The rejection of the ‘dialectics of nature’ has long been thought of as the most fundamental factor distinguishing Western Marxism from official Soviet-style Marxism. Yet, in Tailism and the Dialectic, Georg Lukács – perhaps the most influential figure in Western Marxism – strongly endorses the existence of an objective dialectic in nature. A close examination of Lukács’s main writings on science shows, however, that he still in effect denied the possibility of applying dialectical method to nature. This paradox is bound up with a dualistic conception of natural and social science with distinctly adverse implications for the development of an ecological Marxism.

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Series:

John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett

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Series:

John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett

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Series:

John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett