ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Marxist Approach to Understanding Ecology

Two seminal books, John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York’s The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth and John Bellamy Foster’s The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet suggest that the rift between humanity and nature must be analysed in its intertwining with other kinds of alienation, all stemming from the adverse effects of the very nature and structure of capitalist society. Nothing short of an eco-social revolution is required to deal with the social and ecological crisis.

Our lives are inundated by alienation: auto-forwarding advertisements, “memes” and “selfies” replacing our self-consciousness; isolated faces in a crowd; people becoming machines (with wires emerging from ears and fingers bonding to keyboards, assembly lines, and steering wheels) and machines becoming artificial intelligence; a shortage of roti by people growing wheat; and people without drinking water in a rain forest of stumps. Over the past couple of hundred years, people have been facing increasing alienation at many levels: alienation from oneself, from each other, from our acts, from the things we produce, and from our environment—from nature itself. This last type of alienation—or rift—between humanity and nature is the concern of John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York in The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (Kharagpur: Cornerstone Publications, 2010). But this rift exists in interconnection to the other types of alienation, and the authors show that in the study of ecology we cannot avoid an analysis of the structure of capitalist society which produces them all.

This book, as well as The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet (Kharagpur: Cornerstone Publications, 2009) by Foster, provides resources and discussions on what can be done about the ecological crisis. As the title suggests, the solution is an eco-social revolution—a “massive and sudden change in the relation of humanity to the earth.” The authors argue that the ecological rift cannot be solved by a “sustainable development” that “modernises” or makes technological fixes while sustaining capitalist development—because capitalism itself is the route cause of the problem.

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Updated On : 17th Sep, 2017

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