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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In analyzing the relations between human societies and the larger biophysical world, Karl Marx employed a dialectical triadic scheme of “the universal metabolism of nature,” the “social metabolism,” and the metabolic rift. He incorporated this metabolic approach within his critique of political economy, allowing him to assess the historical interchanges and interpenetrations of society and ecological systems. Given its endless pursuit of accumulation, capitalism imposes its demands on nature, increasing pressures on ecological systems and the production of wastes. It generates distinct metabolic rifts (ruptures) in natural cycles and processes. Marx specifically developed this approach in his critique of capitalist agriculture, with regard to how this system created an ecological rift in the soil nutrient cycle. Contemporary scholarship has drawn upon this work to examine a broad array of ecological contradictions, which are culminating in an ecological crisis.

Keywords: Marx, ecology, environmental degradation, metabolism, nature

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