The Robbery of Nature - July-August 2018 (Volume 70, Number 3)

Roger Annis

A Socialist In Canada, July 2, 2018

The new issue of Monthly Review, July-August, 2018, has just been published. It is a special double issue devoted to explaining and expanding the ecological critique embodied in Marx’s theory of metabolic rift.

Below is a listing of the essays contained in this special double issue and the dates on which they will appear online. You can also read the essays by subscribing to Monthly ReviewClick here to subscribe, US$39 per year, $68 for two years.

Monthly Review also hosts MR Online, ‘a forum for collaboration and communication between radical activists, writers, and scholars around the world’.

Contents of Monthly Review, July-August, 2018:

The Robbery Of Nature: Capitalism and the Metabolic Rift, by John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark (available online now)
Marx’s notion of “the robbery of the soil” is intrinsically connected to the rift in the metabolism between human beings and the earth. To get at the complexities of his metabolic rift theory, it is useful to look separately at the issues of the robbery and the rift, seen as separate moments in a single development.

No Empires, No Dust Bowls: Ecological disasters and the lessons of history, by Hannah Holleman (available online July 9)
When scientists describe the increase of Dust Bowl-like conditions under climate change, they signal a particular kind of violent ecological and social change. But equally violent are the social forces, historical developments, policies, and practices that produce such massive socioecological crises in the first place.

Cesspools, Sewage and Social Murder: Environmental crisis and metabolic rift in 19thcentury London, by Ian Angus  (available online July 16)
The accumulation of human excrement in nineteenth-century cities, particularly London, precipitated a historic environmental crisis—an aspect of the metabolic rift mostly overlooked in ecosocialist analysis. The solution that was finally adopted only shifted the problem out of sight, setting the stage for even greater crises in our time.

Metabolic Rift and the Human Microbiome, by Michael Friedman (available online July 23)
Metabolic rift theory can deepen our understanding of the human microbiota—organisms living on and inside of humans—and the ways that capitalism has disrupted these microbial ecosystems, with serious consequences for our health.

Land-Sea Ecological Rifts: A metabolic analysis of nutrient loading, by Brett Clark and Stefano B. Longo (available online July 30)
Increasing rates of nitrogen and phosphorus application have caused severe damage to aquatic systems, as rivers, streams, lakes, bays, and ocean systems have been inundated with nutrient runoff. Only by addressing the metabolic rupture in the soil nutrient cycle and the contradictions of capital can we begin to mend these land–sea rifts.

Marx, Value and Nature, by John Bellamy Foster (available online August 13)
In recent years ecological critiques of capitalism have deepened and multiplied, resulting in new debates over the conception, scope, and purpose of Marx’s value theory and its relation to the natural world.

Plus: Two previously unavailable documents by Justus von Liebig, the agricultural chemist whose work inspired and informed Marx’s theory of metabolic rift:
On English Farming and Sewers (1859)  (available online, August 20)
‘If the British people do not take the pains to secure the natural conditions of the permanent fertility of their land, if they allow these conditions as hitherto to be squandered, their fields will at no distant day cease to yield their returns of corn and meat.’
Preface to the Agricultural Chemistry (1862)  (available online on August 27)
‘I have had abundant opportunity of estimating the impediments which stand in the way of scientific doctrines passing into the domain of practical Agriculture. The reason of which is, especially, that no connexion was formed between Practice and Science.’