Cheap Food and Bad Climate : From Surplus Value to Negative Value in the Capitalist World-Ecology


5 Aug , 2018  

… The dynamism of capitalist technological advance not only produces a tendency for industrial production to run ahead of its raw materials supply—Marx’s “general law” of underproduction —it also produces a “general law” of overpollution: the tendency to enclose and fill up waste frontiers faster than it can locate new ones. Thus a graph of the waste accumulation curve over the longue duree would show a nonlinear slope with a series of sharp upticks after 1945, 1975, and 2008. As “resource quality”—a wretched term—declines, it is not only more costly to extract work/energy, it becomes more toxic. This is the transition from placer to cyanide gold mining, or the rising share of strip mining in world coal production.The result today is a world in which every nook and cranny bears the impress of capital’s toxification: from heavy metals in Arctic glaciers and children’s blood to the plastic “garbage patches” in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2 …
… Hence: negative-value accumulation is the accumulation of capital’s biophysical limits in the web of life. These limits are contradictions of capital-in-nature, propelled and expressed through the law of value …
… Here is the accumulation of negative value at work: the production of direct barriers to the accumulation of capital as a whole, mediated through the climate-mediated erosion of agricultural productivity …
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