Green Marxism

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Some Marxists are now talking about a "second contradiction of capital" which is that the pressure of competition drives businesses to use the environment so rapaciously that it will become unable to support the human population, which will crash and of course take business prosperity along with it. The contradiction is between capital's inherent expansiveness on one hand, and resource limits on the other.

Marx was not unaware of capital's harmful effect on the land. However, his expectation that technical progress would lead to a state of superabundance which would help eliminate the problem of economic rationing, may need to be reexamined in light of the environmental bounds, which are more obvious now than in his day.

Moreover, all progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the labourer, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time, is a progress toward ruining the lasting sources of that fertility. The more a country starts its development on the foundation of modern industry, like the United States, for example, the more rapid is this process of destruction." [1]


  1. (Capital, v 1, c xv, s 10.)