Episode 67: A Metabolic Mess: On Foster & Clark’s “The Robbery of Nature”

The co-hosts discuss Brendan’s just-published review-essay on John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark’s 2020 book, The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift, which Brendan found to be dishonest, inconsistent, irrelevant, and embarrassing.
After summarizing their theory of capitalism’s ecological crisis, Brendan explains that it fails to fit the facts: contrary to what Foster & Clark argue, the crisis is the product of economic growth, not economic stagnation. He then pinpoints important theoretical problems that plague their account, emphasizing that all the problems have a single source, the authors’ need to shoehorn the ecological crisis into the Monthly Review school’s framework. The resulting theory is inconsistent and it ignores critical dimensions of the crisis such as climate change. Brendan then contrasts Foster & Clark’s account to MHI’s “Marxist-Humanist Perspective on Capitalism and the Ecological Crisis,” which is grounded in Marx’s theories of value and capital accumulation, not underconsumptionism. While Foster & Clark contend that their theory is an elaboration of Marx’s own theory of metabolic rift, Brendan argues that the passages from Marx that they cite have nothing in common with their theory except for the word “metabolism.” Finally, he and Andrew discuss the tendency to overlook or excuse such problems for the sake of “building the left,” and why we need to resist that tendency.
Plus current-events segment: “Who’s Calling Whom a Pawn?” As the Ukrainian people heroically resist Putin’s bloody invasion, RT contributor Rick Wolff portrays them as pawns.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

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April 29, 2022

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