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VALUE, NATURE, AND THE VORTEX OF ACCUMULATION

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11 Aug , 2019  

Introduction


Of all the domains of Marxian political economy, nature is by far the most vexing. Is nature an economic input as in the notion of natural resources; is it the object of labour in the process of production; or is it something broader, as in the idea of land and the territory upon which capitalism develops? Such questions rest on a conception of extra- human nature, but some have argued that because people are part of nature, then resources, labour, and conditions of production include the social integument of built environments, levels of education, and the work of families. But does this go far enough? Perhaps capitalism should be thought of as a “life process”
that unfolds within the web of life? But even there lies a crucial debate about whether the chief problem of political economy is the fundamental rift between capitalism and nature or whether the web of life is imbricated in every accumulation strategy and the crisis- prone process of capitalist expansion. These are some of the key questions posed by Marxist theory since the 1980s (Walker 1979 ; 2016 ; Smith 1984 ; O’Connor 1998 ; Harvey 1996 ; Burkett 1999 ; Foster 2000 ; Moore 2015a ; Foster, Clark and York 2010 ).

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