chapter  30
17 Pages

Ecological challenges

A Marxist response
ByAndriana Vlachou

The significance of nature for society has long attracted the interest of economists and social thinkers. Natural resource depletion and pollution have been considered major ecological challenges. Neoclassical economists, however, admit that dynamic efficiency is not sufficient to achieve sustainable development. R. Levins and R. Lewontin, informed by Marxism, argue for a dialectical approach that has certain commonalities with Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff's overdeterminist epistemological position. Capitalist firms need natural resources and conditions to be available in requisite quantities and qualities, and, if priced, at prices that make profit possible. Changes in prices and differential rents due to increased pollution and scarcity impact, in turn, profits, wages and other class payments. Environmental degradation may also have direct adverse social effects such as discomfort and pain to human and other living species, not necessarily captured by economic categories. Economic considerations directly influence scientific and technical activity.