Some comments on Andreas Malm’s ‘Fossil Capital’

Moreover Malm has transposed Marx’s argument on the organic composition of capital (the ratio of dead to living labor, increasing over time and producing a falling rate of profit) into a rising fossil composition of capital.[15] “[O]perating over the span of history,” the tendency of capital to reduce the portion of human labor relative to machinery “translates into a law of a rising concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere”.[16] These dynamics, plus those of relative surplus value, having been first properly expressed during the consummation of coal and the cotton trade, lay the contradictory foundations of global climate change, through the necessary production of CO2 as condition to surplus value. Part of the conditions to accumulation is the primitive accumulation of fossil fuels – “for capitalists to burn fossil fuels, there have to be other capitalists specialized in their production, and for the former to burn more, the latter have to deliver it in greater quantities, the two cycles ever intertwined”—which forms a permanent foundation for the fossil economy.

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Foto: Bernhard Weber

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