Marxism and Ecology

By 1972 at the latest – the year the Club of Rome published its celebrated study on the "Limits to Growth," raising broad awareness of environmental issues –, Marx-based critique has attempted to link the critique of economics with the "ecological question." As early as the 1960s and 1970s, there was a debate on "productivism," both in the capitalist West and in the East of real existing socialism; this debate involved a critique of prevailing concepts of progress, as well as of the manner in which societies are oriented towards economic growth.

Since the 1970s and 1980s, a number of issues associated with "social relations with nature" and with environmental degradation have been discussed. Emphatic reference to Marx's critique of the capitalist mode of production was only made, however, once the issues that are topical today had emerged, and in the context of social struggles around those issues: post-growth societies, anthropocene/capitalocene, and climate justice.

Major contributions to this debate have come, inter alia, from US writer John Bellamy Foster and from German political scientists Birgit Mahnkopf and Elmar Altvater.