Capitalism, Nature, Socialism
DOI link for Capitalism, Nature, Socialism
Capitalism, Nature, Socialism book
This chapter expounds the traditional Marxist theory of the contradiction between forces and relations of production, overproduction of capital and economic crisis, and the process of crisis‐induced restructuring of productive forces and production relations into more transparently social, hence potentially socialist, forms. This exposition provides a point of departure for an “ecological Marxist”: a theory of the contradiction between capitalist production relations and forces and the conditions of production, underproduction of capital and economic crisis, and the process of crisis‐induced restructuring of production conditions and the social relations thereof also into more transparently social, hence potentially socialist, forms. In short, there may be not one but two paths to socialism in late capitalist society.
While the two processes of capital overproduction and underproduction are by no means mutually exclusive, they may offset or compensate for one another in ways which create the appearance of relatively stable processes of capitalist development. Study of the combination of the two processes in the contemporary world may throw light on the decline of traditional labour and socialist movements and the rise of “new social movements” as agencies of social transformation. Similar to the ways that traditional Marxism illuminates the practices of traditional labour movements, it may be that “ecological Marxism” throws light on the practices of new social movements. Although ecology and nature; the politics of the body, feminism, and the family; and urban movements and related topics are usually discussed in post‐Marxist terms, the rhetoric deployed in this chapter is self‐consciously Marxist and designed to appeal to Marxist theorists and fellow travellers whose work remains within a “scientific” discourse: hence, those who are least likely to be convinced by post‐Marxist discussions of the problem of capital’s use and abuse of nature (including human nature) in the modern world. However, the emphasis in this chapter on a political, economic, “scientific” discourse is tactical, not strategic. In reality, more-or-less autonomous social relationships, often non‐capitalist or anti‐capitalist, constitute “civil society,” which needs to be addressed on its own practical and theoretical terms. In other words, social and collective action is not meant to be construed merely as derivative of systemic forces, as the last section of the chapter hopefully will make clear.